Saturday, February 12, 2011

Agriculture meets Business Development and Nutrition

Holistic development is a primary tenet of Manna's development approach at all of its Latin American sites.  Here in Ecuador, Brock describes some of the ways this goal is realized in Rumiloma:

One of the pillars of MPI Ecuador is to strengthen institutions and build networks between community members as well as institutions.  In the agriculture program we have focused on these goals by partnering with a local organization that supports organic farming in the community: Fundación Añamisi.  Luke and I have gone to help out in Añamisi’s garden most Friday mornings since last September.  In addition to their organic garden, Añamisi has also recently opened a small organic tienda, or store, where they sell some produce and other organic products.  It has been very cool to see Añamisi grow as an organization as they begin reaching out to the community with their new business.

We have also stumbled upon another cool way to not only help Añamisi reach out to the community but also to connect them with Esperanza y Progreso del Valle (EPV), our partner organization in business development (formerly known as our microfinance program – more on that change soon).  EPV has found that some of their clients taking agricultural loans are having trouble paying them back.  A big reason for this is because their clients are seeing a smaller production from their land due to bad farming practices.  At the end of this month EPV is hoping that Añamisi will start having charlas (or educational talks) for some of their clients and some potential clients to teach them how to farm sustainably.  We are really excited to see Añamisi start working with another business in Rumiloma and extend their reach into the community.

Brock and Brayan walking
the four blocks to Añamisi 
Last week we were able to bring our 6th grade nutrition class students from Fundación Aliñambi to Añamisi.  It was a lot of fun having the kids ask Christian and Laura, the heads of Añamisi, questions about organic framing and have them see Añamisi’s garden.  The class went great; not only did Christian and Laura, who also helped a great deal with our summer camp back in August, enjoy teaching the kids, but the kids loved being able to go on a field trip to a local garden, even though it was just a few blocks down the street.

Christian and Laura explaining how oregano protects these chard plants from insects.

Learning about why corn is planted in successive rows: "It's like the tall ones are the younger ones' older siblings, just like your older brothers and sisters!"

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