From Village to Market: Production Chains in Northern Ecuador

The northern Border and Amazon regions in Ecuador are among the poorest and most vulnerable in the country. These regions also suffer from violence and humanitarian crisis that spills over from neighboring Colombia. UNDP Ecuador, through its Productive Borders Project, is providing support for small farmers by helping them to identify, plan and successfully manage ecotourism and production chains for coffee and dairy products. The project, supported by the Government of Canada and implemented by Ecuadorean NGO Fondo Ecuatoriano de Cooperación para el Desarrollo, promotes environmentally sustainable and socially responsible production chains.

When the project began in 2007, unemployment was rising and natural resources like oil and lumber were being exploited without consideration for the environmental or the rights of indigenous and local communities. The Productive Borders Project sought to enable local farmers, producers, processors, shippers and other stakeholders in the production chain to bring their goods and services to market. The aim was also to ensure that this happened in an environmentally and financially sustainable and fair way.

By 2008, the project helped 18,000 families in six provinces in the Northern Border of the country - Carchi, Esmeraldas, Imbabura, Napo, Orellana and Sucumbios - to increase their income by almost a third. These included 5,400 households headed by women.

It did this by providing the following support:

  • Helping communities create demand for and market their products;
  • Developing production chains that enabled communities to supply products to markets in ways that are environmentally sustainable as well as culturally and gender-sensitive;
  • Generating greater demand for and investment in these production chains;
  • Providing grant funding, technical and follow-up support to 12 competitively selected productive chains;
  • Raising awareness of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and helping provincial and local actors to develop poverty reduction strategies.

In addition to bringing more wealth to the area and connecting the Northern and Amazon region to markets, the project is also good for the environment: protecting river basins, recovering eroded fields and establishing sustainable land-management programmes in much of the region.