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Food Systems in Ecuador
In 2020, 930,000 tons of food went to waste in Ecuador, according to The Global FoodBanking Network. Much of this waste is due to the inefficiency of food systems in Ecuador. However, there are programs making efforts to decrease this waste and much of these efforts have proven to be very successful. Much of the produce in Ecuador comes from small-scale farms that families run.

According to the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, families or smallholder farms occupy 75% of the world’s agricultural land and many of these individuals live in poverty. Without an abundance of employees and a lack of training on commercialization for these small producers, it is difficult for farmers to make a profit suitable for the size of their families. The Joint Programme took notice of this issue and is working to increase access to nutritious foods in the province of Imbabura.

The Joint Programme

The Joint Programme began in September 2020 and helped increase the production of vital foods such as quinoa and lupine. It educated farmers on sustainability and good production practices to get the most benefit from their crops. The initiative also supports the National Plan For Good Living 2013-2017, as reported by the Sustainable Development Goals Fund. The Joint Programme strives to reduce poverty and undernutrition in the cities of Ecuador.

According to the Sustainable Development Goals Fund, this effort helped 716 families to grow agro-diverse plots and increased their access to markets and fairs to sell their produce. The efforts also helped 118 producers of chocho, a high-protein legume, and gave assistance to 112 quinoa farmers to diversify their crops. Out of the 483 families in the program, 60.1% diversified their diets to include more fruits, vegetables and legumes.

The Future of Food Program

After the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, more concerns arose about the ability of food systems in Ecuador to adequately provide for citizens. Only supermarkets were able to sell produce, whereas, before the pandemic hit, producers could sell their food at fairs and marketplaces. This was a necessary option for many farmers due to the small number of collection centers in Ecuador, making it difficult to sell products to supermarkets. It was also more difficult for people to access produce at markets due to stay-at-home orders.

The Future of Food program started in 2019, according to the Diplomatic Courier. The program members deliver baskets of produce from small-scale farmers directly to families in need after the baskets pass a sanitation check. This ensures no produce from farmers goes to waste and provides a source of food to families so that they can stay home during the pandemic. The program has reached more than 9,300 families in Ecuador and has inspired the first farmer-owned online marketplace.

Programs that address the shortcomings of food systems in Ecuador are helping the nation inch closer to food security and sustainability. Implementing these programs in more cities may be helpful to small-scale producers in making a liveable wage and will increase families’ access to healthy foods.

– Katelyn Rogers
Photo: Flickr

Time is Now
With the recent release of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the upcoming September 25-27 Summit, world entities are taking stock of the power that setting such goals can have in creating positive change in people’s lives. Coming on the heels of the success of the Millennium Development Goals, UN organizers are now focusing on how to engage business in global development.

Engaging business in global development has not always been easy. The Millennium Development Goals addressed this through the Millennium Development Fund, which connected more than nine million people involved in various national and international bodies, organizations and businesses.

Now through an initiative started by the Spanish government, there is the Sustainable Development Goals Fund, which will be led by Paloma Durán. The Fund is designed to connect UN agencies, governments, civil society and businesses in sustainable development programs. One purpose of the Sustainable Development Goals Fund is to create new means with which to include businesses into UN cooperation programs.

Durán said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper that businesses will need to be brought into the picture in order to reach sustainability in global development work.

“While working with the MDG Fund from 2007 to 2014, we realized that collaborations between UN agencies and national counterparts could be highly effective. But achieving sustainability – which combines economic growth, social progress and environmental protection – requires us to go the extra mile,” she said. “Only when businesses are part of development programs can we achieve this.”

Along these lines, the UN is embarking on several initiatives to bring businesses into the work of global development. These include the Partnerships Office, Business Call to Action and Global Compact. In addition, in the 18 countries where new programs will be enacted, private sector representatives will be consulted during the planning stages.

The UN is also creating an advisory council to develop public-private alliances. The council will include leaders from various industries worldwide. “We want them to help us build a road map for how public-private alliances can provide large-scale solutions for achieving the new SDGs,” said Durán.

One of the goals of this public-private alliance is to create inclusive economic growth so that impoverished individuals in resource-rich countries are able to benefit. Through education and skills training programs for locals, those living in global poverty could begin to earn a better livelihood while contributing to their country’s economic growth.

Furthermore, by having a public-private alliance between the UN and private corporations, more transparency can be achieved regarding business supply and labor chains. Through more transparency and consequent regulation, issues such as human trafficking, modern slavery and child labor can be addressed.

Ultimately, Durán said that real solutions to achieving the SDGs will require innovation, much of which can come from the private sector. “Each community needs people who can provide efficient solutions to social and environmental challenges,” she said. “Businesses are well-positioned to deploy these innovative responses.”

But Peter Bakker, head of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), told Reuters that even though corporations helped shape the SDGs, many have not developed plans for how to participate in achieving them.

To coincide with the UN Summit, the WBCSD will issue a guide to help companies determine which goals apply to them, where they could have an impact and how to measure progress.

If businesses are successful in participating in global development, inclusive economic growth and greater transparency in labor and supply chains will be powerful contributions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: The Guardian, Reuters, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
Photo: Day of Happiness