By: Alan Adams
Photos: Courtesy of Alan Adams
We would like to invite members of the expat community in Cuenca to engage their expertise, curiosity, and sense of adventure in any of a wide variety of initiatives that the people of the Cañari Kichwa community have begun. There are small ways, big ways, short term and long term ways that you can participate. Mushuk Yuyay is headquartered near the town of Cañar, north of Cuenca, and would welcome your inquiries and visits. This is an association of small-farm holders raising the world’s most nutritious foods in an effort to find economic self-sufficiency and a secure supply of the right things to eat.
If you have experience with farming, marketing, environmental science, or related fields, you are welcome to contact us. A member can sponsor a school garden, an experimental planting, a beehive, an irrigation pump, or the production of a new experimental quinoa treat. And there is much more. Is anyone an ex 4-H member? We have a newly formed alpaca club–the only 4-H club in Ecuador. The club needs equipment to prepare the wool for the artisanal weavers of Cañar.
Children who participate in the nutrition education activities, Niños Saludables y Futuro Saludable, would love to demonstrate what they’ve learned and share their recipes. You can help the Women’s Farming Association with planting or a harvest minga. They help provide products for the children’s nutrition program. You can also sponsor a plant. Penco (agave) has wonderful potential as a sweetener. Flowering bushes will provide food for bees and soon the little pollinators will supply a new industry in the area. New products can be developed. One group in a beautiful little valley wants to brew a craft beer.
The fascinating reality of Mushuk Yuyay is that it was conceived and implemented by the community that it serves. At the time of the Ecuadorian Agrarian Reform in the 1960s, the Cañari people saw the opportunity to free themselves from hacienda servitude and make their own future. This agrarian reform was unique to Ecuador, and the way the Cañari people used this opportunity was unique to them. Each community formed a cooperative to buy the land and administer the division and the projects designed to raise the money for payments. Soon afterward, cooperatives began to join forces to work on projects that addressed problems that they had in common such as irrigation, seed development, fertilizers, marketing, etc. Mushuk Yuyay was formed in 1994 as a nonprofit to address many of these issues.
Over the years, Mushuk Yuyay has developed several programs. Currently, they are expanding quinoa production through experimental new varieties in coordination with Washington State University. Amaranth production is also being increased. They participated in a program in Mexico to learn more about cultivation, processing, and new products. And the new processing plant is expanding opportunities and developing more products. Please join us. We have people on the ground ready to work with you. I am willing to answer any questions and supply any information you may need.
For further information on Mushuk Yuyay, contact Alan at AlAdams475@aol.com or Isabel at firstname.lastname@example.org