Cooperatives can be a tool to create sustainable opportunities for economic, social and environmental development. At NCBA CLUSA, we work to develop, advance and protect cooperative enterprise both domestically and internationally to build a better world that empowers people to contribute to shared prosperity and well-being for themselves and future generations.
Our work in Ecuador has advanced to a new partnership with that country’s national government. On December 10, 2020 NCBA CLUSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Ecuador (MAG). This MOU highlights the partnership between NCBA CLUSA and the MAG towards the development and strengthening of the agricultural sector, associativity, modern cooperativism, and commercialization of agricultural products in Ecuador.
The MOU was virtually signed by Francisco Donoso (NCBA CLUSA’s Farmer-to-Farmer Country Director in Ecuador)and Xavier Lazo (Minister of Agriculture and Livestock). The signing event was also attended by William Gerald Kaschak (USAID representative in Ecuador) and Andrés Pareja (Undersecretary of Agricultural Innovation Networks).Mr. Kaschak expressed that the USAID mission in Ecuador will promote the sectors of organic agriculture, renewable energy, and agritourism, among others through technical assistance strategies.
In August 2020, 85 field technicians were trained in associativity and cooperativism through NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer Program. Associations and cooperatives are part of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) in Ecuador where organizations and enterprises are created based on principles of solidarity and produce goods or services while pursuing both economic and social aims. The field technicians from the MAG learned topics related to the seven cooperative principles, legal framework of cooperatives in Ecuador and how associations can convert to cooperatives, to build capacity and strengthen associations as a fundamental social development tool.
NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer Program is currently carrying out a second assignment in Ecuador in modern Cooperativism with over 100 rural association leaders participating. Since there is a need to improve the leadership and direction within organizations, these trainings have given rural leaders an updated vision of the cooperative movement, the transition of associations to cooperatives, values, scale economies, and cooperative financing. It is important to emphasize that in these trainings, over 50% of participants were women. The MAG promotes programs for women and youth inclusion such as the Super Mujer Rural and Joven Rural (Super Rural Women and Rural Youth respectively) and with this agreement, we hope that smallholder farmers will learn to produce with inclusion, knowledge and strategy.
Four Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers were involved in the conduction of these two assignments and have a wealth of experience and knowledge of the cooperative movement in Ecuador. The international group of volunteers included Robert Flick (USA), Christian Marlin (French-Ecuadorian), Edward Potter (USA) and Alberto Mora (Costa Rica). These volunteers have either lived or worked in Ecuador, are experts in the cooperative movement, and/or have collaborated with governmental and non-governmental institutions. We also had guest speakers present successful cooperative model experiences from Cafenorte (Colombia), Consorcio Lechero (Chile), Norandino (Peru), Jardin Azuayo (Ecuador), FECOPROD (Paraguay), and ACA (Argentina). Over the course of nine sessions, the volunteers covered general topics such as the Universal Cooperative Principles, legal framework of co-ops in Ecuador, and scale economies to be more competitive.
NCBA CLUSA is also on the initial phase of implementing the Cooperative Development Program (CDP) and is carrying out a CLARITY analysis in Ecuador. This program works along with the local government and other stakeholders to identify ways to strengthen cooperative through technical assistance and build the capacities of local institutions to provide quality cooperative development services.