Streamlining the farm-to-buyer process to improve the livelihoods of Ecuadors corn farmers
Pronaca, a major producer of poultry and pork products, and the leading buyer of hard yellow corn in Ecuador, has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to engage 500 smallholder farmers in the companys corn value chain as well as increase their production 5 percent by the end of 2016.
Historically from indigenous populations, generally poor and often with only a rudimentary education, Ecuadors farmers have been locked in a cycle of poverty. Intermediaries traditionally lend them money at extremely high interest rates and are lax in accurately weighing farm produce. In addition, the farmers receive little technical assistance or information about advanced farming and sustainable agriculture practices. As a result, yields are low, farmers do not receive a fair price for their harvests and they pay prohibitive rates to repay their loans.
To change the dynamic in Ecuador, Pronaca started by cutting out the middlemen and began buying directly from farmers. The company provides financial assistance to enable the purchase of certified seeds, fertilizers and other agriculture supplies at affordable rates, and delivers technical assistance to improve crop productivity, quality and sustainability. Pronaca also guarantees the purchase of 100 percent of farmers harvests at prices fixed by the government.
With this new process, Pronaca is looking to increase farmers corn productivity by 5 percent from 5.6 mt per hectare to 5.88 mt per hectare by the end of 2016. It will engage 500 smallholder farmers in its corn value chain, training them on sustainable agricultural practices and equipment management, and providing access to financing. And it will expand their production options beyond corn by transferring the technical know-how needed to grow additional vegetables improving nutrition while increasing incomes.