Yachana Gastronomy and Agricultural Development Program, Ecuador

$1480 / $24863

 

 

Project:  ‘Yachana Gastronomy and Agricultural Development Program’

Location:  Amazon, Ecuador

Beneficiaries:  Communities of the Amazon

Local sponsor:  Yachana Foundation

 

What does the project entail?

This project would specifically support the agricultural program of the Yachana Foundation’s high school.  It would indirectly enhance the tourism program of the Yachana Lodge and improve the training facility for our students and others from the Amazon region. Funding is needed to improve the infrastructure and to increase production of both crops and animals.  The long-term vision for the project is that our school and lodge will be largely food self-sufficient and that our improved agricultural practices will be incorporated into our education and tourism programs and be a centre for training for people from throughout the region.   

 

Background

The Yachana Foundation, involving communities from six different provinces, has been operating in this community since 1992 with the Lodge operating since 1995, the Mondaña Medical Clinic since 1997 and the school since 2005.  Its gastronomical and agricultural programs are already in place, but would benefit from further development.  The Ecuadorian Ministry of Agriculture has entered into an agreement with the Yachana Foundation to provide technical assistance to its program and to help promote sustainable agriculture.

 

What challenges does the project seek to overcome?

Deforestation – Ecuador has the highest rate of deforestation of any country in South America (1.2% of its total area annually) and much of this is caused by the conversion of rainforest into pasture land.  To preserve the forest, There has to be a balance between ensuring people who live in the Amazon are able to produce sufficient food to make a living, but at the same time protect the sensitive environment in which they live. 

Agricultural sustainability - agriculture is the primary commercial activity in the Amazon, the majority of its people are farmers.   However, many agricultural practices are both damaging to the environment and unsustainable.  Agricultural programs such as this one, help demonstrate methods of improved land management to students and farmers both for increasing yields and reducing the need to resort to deforestation.  For instance farming sheep is lower impact than cattle: 8 African sheep produce the same amount of meat as one cow but require less pasture and cause less damage to the ground.

Education – there is little access to education in the Amazon, let alone courses that include components of agriculture, tourism and sustainability. 

Food security – an increase in local food production will reduce dependency on imported produce, and provide local people with better means to earning an income.  Access to local markets can be provided by Yachana Lodge itself and by increasing sales to the local population.

 

How the funds will be spent:   $24,863 (Loan)

 

Infrastructure - $11,065 

Enlarge pig facility                                                                                                                      

$7,265

Build a new bio-digester that produces gas for cooking and bio-fertilizer         

$3,800

Equipment - $13,798 

Buy 18 sows and 2 boars

$7,800

General farm tools for all aspects of farming operation                                                         

$1,700

Weed eater

$    900

Diesel motor for generator

$1,460

Plastic tanks for producing organic fertilizer

$1,200

Laptop computer

$   738

 

What will be the outcomes and impacts of the project?

Health - improved nutrition of the students that live and study at the Yachana Technical High School, through an improved diet of organic produce that the school farm can provide. 

Financial - better training and improvements in agricultural practices will lead to increased yields and increased income both to local farmers and the Yachana Foundation, through the sale of produce.

Environmental sustainability – farmers will learn to be more efficient with the land, reducing the need for more deforestation.  Improvements to the biodigester machine will enable the Yachana Foundation to save 25 cylinders of bottled gas a month for cooking, and become 100% self-sustainable in gas.

Food security – on-site food production for the Yachana Technical High School will increase from approximately 35% of its annual needs to around 60%, within one year.  This will include an increase in meat production from approximately 10% of the school’s needs, to 100% self-sufficiency.

Education – at least 70 students annually will benefit from the improvements to education at the Yachana Technical High School, leading to increased opportunity for further employment on graduating.

 

What will the project offer the traveler?

Visitors to the award-winning Yachana Lodge can join a tour to discover the local farming techniques and look at an array of crops, plants and animals in the area - some of which are being protected and others that are being farmed.  Some of these might be used during a subsequent cooking class, 

Students, as part of their tourism training, are likely to be the travelers’ guides.  Visitors might like to further participate in a Yachana Culinary tour, an interactive tour with a local chef, where foods are harvested by hand before returning to the kitchen to prepare them.  Visitors get their hands dirty and are expected to harvest a banana tree, pull up yucca roots, strip nestles off their stems and fishing in the river, before preparing the foods for cooking.

Visitors to the award-winning Yachana Lodge can join a tour to discover the local farming techniques and look at an array of crops, plants and animals in the area - some of which are being protected and others that are being farmed.  Students as part of their tourism training, are likely to be the guides. 

Visitors might like to further participate in a Yachana Culinary tour, an interactive tour with a local chef, where foods are harvested by hand before returning to the kitchen to prepare them.  Visitors get their hands dirty and are expected to harvest a banana tree, pull up yucca roots, strip nestles off their stems and fish in the river before preparing the foods, such as fish cooked in leaves or palm grubs roasted over an open fire. At least 3,000 visitors a year will participate in the tours.

 

How will the project be financially self-sustaining?

-          An increase in food production which will reduce the need for expensive food imports 

-          An increase in sales of agricultural products to the Yachana Lodge and public markets

-          Revenue from visitors on tours

-          Reduction in costs through sustainable biogas energy

 

Local sponsor details:

The Yachana Foundation was established in 1992 and has made a major impact on the wellbeing, income and conservation of the rainforest region and its people.  It has helped establish a medical centre, an award-winning ecotourism lodge, conservation programs and micro-enterprise initiatives.  Its agricultural programs have promoted the planting of over 2,500 hectares of cacao, created two farmers associations with around 3,000 members and built 10 agricultural collection centers.  Its mission is to achieve sustainability through education.

 

Beneficiary details:

In the Amazon region of Ecuador, poverty, environmental degradation and poor quality of public education are all inextricably linked. Thirty percent of elementary school children in the Amazon region do not finish the 6th grade. Only 15% finish secondary schooling.  The Yachana Technical High School benefits principally high school age indigenous and mestizo students who live in remote rural communities in Ecuador's Amazon region, but also many hundreds of people from the region who either benefit directly from the other services that the Yachana Foundation provides, or indirectly from the opportunities derived from the large numbers of tourists visiting the area.

The Yachana Foundation is having a tremendous impact on the youth from the Amazon through its Yachana Technical High School.  The school’s educational method of “hands-on” learning has resulted that nearly 100% of the graduates have immediately found jobs or developed their own micro-enterprises.  I had incredible opportunities by being a student at the school.  Their philosophy and focus on conservation changed our mentality where we are now aware of the value of conserving the rainforest and sharing this attitude with our families.’    -  Fabio Legarda (Graduate 2009)