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Equator Initiative Case Study – Union of Farmer and Indigenous Organizations of Cotacachi

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The remote communities of Ecuador’s inter-Andean valleys have long faced the twin challenges of food insecurity and environmental degradation. Malnutrition affects approximately 40 per cent of the region’s population, and farmers receive limited technological and economic support from formal institutions. The Union of Farmer and Indigenous Organizations of Cotacachi was founded to address these challenges and turn the relative abundance of rare native crop and fruit species to the advantage of farming communities.
By conserving of a wide variety of native, tuber, root, fruit, cereal and medicinal plant species, the initiative has improved diversity of income and nutrition sources for 3,225 farming families. In addition the initiative has developed value-added processing of local varieties, and ‘agro-tourism’. The Equator Initiative brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize--issued biennially by the Equator Initiative--shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage. This project was awarded the Equator Prize in recognition of its contribution to local sustainable development solutions.

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