Quito’s Participatory Urban Agriculture Programme (AGRUPAR)

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Happy child in an urban garden in Quito.
CONQUITO

AGRUPAR was developed on the basis of a broad, large community consultation. It explicitly recognizes the role of urban agriculture for wider social, ecological and economic development and works along the entire food chain. Training programmes help support community, family and school gardens. With over 3,600 urban gardens growing on 32 hectares and more than 21,000 people trained, AGRUPAR fosters food security, increases incomes, and enhances ecosystem functions. Its participants produce now more than 870,000 kg of food products per year for the city and more than 6,600 bio-fairs have been organized so far. The programme is part of Quito’s mission to become an entrepreneurial, sustainable and innovative city. Due to its impressive socioeconomic and environmental impact, and its participatory and holistic approach, AGRUPAR was recognized with the Future Policy Silver Award 2018, awarded by the World Future Council in partnership with FAO and IFOAM – Organics International.

Last update: 02 Oct 2020
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Context
Challenges addressed
Avalanche/landslide
Changes in socio-cultural context

Between 1980 and 2000, the arrival waves of migrants from other parts of the country almost doubled Quito’s population, from 780 000 to 1.4 million. In inner-city barrios (neighborhoods) and settlements built on surrounding hillsides, many people resorted to small-scale agriculture, based on conventional practices, to feed their families. This meant that urban agriculture in Quito became widespread, but was unrecognized. With its geographic position and mountainous topography, Quito is highly vulnerable to climatic changes, already experiencing higher average temperatures, an overall decrease in rainfall, and more extreme rain events, which cause landslides. In the late 1990s, Ecuador suffered a severe economic crisis, which resulted in a sharp drop in public spending and an increase in internal migration and emigration. In 1999, 48 per cent of Quito’s population was living below the poverty line. The city urgently needed to address overcrowding and food insecurity.

Scale of implementation
Subnational
Ecosystems
Agroforestry
Cropland
Orchard
Area-wide development
Green roofs / Green walls
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
Theme
Genetic diversity
Adaptation
Ecosystem services
Legal & policy frameworks
Food security
Health and human wellbeing
Local actors
Agriculture
Culture
Location
Quito, Pichincha Province, Ecuador
South America
Process
Summary of the process

Support for urban, community and institutional gardening for home consumption and the sale of leftovers (BB1) is main basis for Support for market-oriented local production in the DMQ region (BB2), Food supply and distribution (BB3), and Promotion of food consumption, healthy diets and nutrition through bio-fairs and education (BB4). Together these building blocks build the Potential as a Transferable Model (BB5).

Building Blocks
Support for urban, community and institutional gardening for home consumption and the sale of leftovers

People are trained in organic production, management skills, nutrition, food processing and marketing. AGRUPAR provides producers with seeds, seedlings, poultry, guinea pigs, bees, inputs and equipment. It supports community gardens, family gardens and gardens in schools and other institutions, as well as small livestock production units. It also promotes vertical farming. Community gardens are established on communal land, or on land that the municipality rents out for a minimal price to growers, and receive an organic certification by AGRUPAR, whilst family gardens are established on individually owned land. It should be noted that that AGRUPAR does not provide official land titles. In 2018, AGRUPAR  had plans to open an additional 200 gardens.

Enabling factors
  • AGRUPAR provides training and inputs
  • AGRUPAR arranges for communal land or land that is rented from the municipality
Lesson learned

Not all orchards require an official organic certification, for example the orchards intended for family self-care do not require this process. For this reason, the project has implemented an internal control system (SIC, which is very similar to a system of participatory guarantees) for all orchards (certified or not) to ensure compliance with Ecuadorian organic production regulations.

Support for market-oriented local production in the DMQ region

Once producers achieve household food security, AGRUPAR encourages them to form microenterprises and trains them in business planning, marketing and accounting. The microenterprises are not only engaged in the production of vegetables, fruits, small animals, fish and ornamental plants, but also in the processing of jams, cookies, yogurt, cheese, drinks and traditional snacks and they also supply products to local food processing companies or to restaurants.

Enabling factors
  • AGRUPAR provides training on entrepreneurship-related skills.
  • Producers who lack the necessary capital are supported through grass-roots investment societies, where each member contributes USD 10 to 20.
Lesson learned

Besides strengthening food security, AGRUPAR improves the incomes of vulnerable groups. Half of the participants generate revenue as well as employment. Around 177 started entrepreneurships, of which 104 are formalized. On average their income is USD 3,100 per year and, since 2016, they have created 337 jobs. On average producers benefit from USD 175 of additional income per month. Total savings are more than three times the value of the government human development voucher (USD 50 a month). However, most of 480 participants surveyed in 2010 said that for them the increased quality of life, improved nutrition and health, and personal empowerment were even more important. It is noteworthy that AGRUPAR enjoys a high acceptance among its beneficiaries (over 91 per cent).

Food supply and distribution

Food is sold in organic produce markets – the bioferias –located in low-income neighbourhoods and peri-urban zones, as well as in better-off parts of the city. As well, the District Trade Coordination Agency has begun to consider the large-scale commercialization of agro-ecological and organic foods through its markets and opened a first market of this kind, including for farmers supported by AGRUPAR. To help producers meet food quality and safety standards, AGRUPAR has introduced improved processing technologies and the use of containers, packaging and labels. AGRUPAR is registered as a producer and marketer of organic produce at the national level allowing it to share the cost of product certification with participating producers.

 

In addition to the bio-fairs, networks of farmers are also formed to deliver organic produce baskets directly to producers and to hotels or restaurants selling traditional food. AGRUPAR is registered as a producer and marketer of organic produce at the national level and shares the cost of product certification with producers.

Enabling factors
  • To ensure quality of production, the bio-fairs are only open to producers who have followed the Programme.
  • In addition to the bio-fairs, networks of farmers have been formed to deliver organic produce directly to local food processing companies and to hotels and restaurants.
  • To ensure the widest possible availability and consumption of organic food, bio fairs
    are located in low-income neighbourhoods and peri-urban zones.
Lesson learned

Today AGRUPAR’s participants annually produce more than 960,000 kg of food products. Almost half of the production (47 per cent) is used for home consumption, strengthening food security and diversifying the diets of the 12,000 participating urban farmers and their families, while the other half is marketed. The Programme created 17 bio-fairs where 105 types of food are offered. Through these, 25% of the produce is commercialized, for about USD 350,000 per year. Since 2007, a total of 6,663 bio-fairs have been organized and all produce is organic. Both formal organic certification for orchards with marketing possibilities (since 2007) and the internal control system (SIC, since 2013) are used. As of 2010, the Programme had created five associations of producers and therefore generated better opportunities for the commercialization of products.

Promotion of food consumption, healthy diets and nutrition through bio-fairs and education

Through the biofairs and other activities, AGRUPAR promotes healthy diets and sustainability. The Programme created 17 bio-fairs where 105 types of food are offered. Through these, 25% of the produce is commercialized, for about USD 350,000 per year.

Enabling factors
  • Since 2007, a total of 6,663 bio-fairs have been organized.
  • Aall produce is organic.
Lesson learned

Nearly 170,000 consumers have attended the bio-fairs and were sensibilized on healthy diets and nutrition. Surveys have identified increased dietary diversity among producers and their families.

 

Potential as a Transferable Model

AGRUPAR could well serve as a model for other cities and form the basis for a national policy on local production.

 

CONQUITO has favoured observation tours and exchanges of experiences as well as transfer of methodologies, including among ministries and NGOs, for example the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries and the Peace Corps.

 

Since 2015, AGRUPAR contributed to both the City Region Food Systems Project of FAO and the RUAF Foundation, which evaluated Quito’s food system. As a result, AGRUPAR staff decided to work towards a food policy for the city in a more systemic sense, within which urban agriculture is a strategic activity.

Enabling factors
  • Commitment from the municipality to keep continuing and investing into the programme in the long term
  • A great equipe
  • The buyin of CONQUITO
Lesson learned

Over its 16 years of existence, AGRUPAR has achieved impressive results. These results helped to make it an international well-known example of exemplary urban participatory agriculture and serve now as benchmark for all others that follow their path.

Impacts

Over its 16 years of existence, AGRUPAR has achieved impressive results. As of 2018, it reaches 4,500 beneficiaries from highly vulnerable populations annually and covers 83 per cent of the district. Since its establishment, the Programme has: directly benefitted 73,936 people and indirectly helped a further 113,774; implemented a total of 3,679 urban gardens, covering 32 hectares, of which 60 per cent are family gardens and 26 per cent are managed by 380 organized groups (with 1,520 participants); incorporated 21,746 persons in trainings, of which 84 per cent were women; organized 16,172 technical trainings and 81,886 cases of technical assistance; and built 2,051 productive infrastructures (1,072 micro-greenhouses and 979 drip irrigation systems).

 

Today AGRUPAR’s participants annually produce more than 960,000 kg of food products. Almost half of the production (47 per cent) is used for home consumption, strengthening food security and diversifying the diets of the 12,000 participating urban farmers and their families, while the other half is marketed. The Programme created 17 bio-fairs where 105 types of food are offered. Through these, 25% of the produce is commercialized, for about USD 350,000 per year. Since 2007, a total of 6,663 bio-fairs have been organized and all produce is organic. Moreover, 48 community banks were created to provide credit services to participants.

Beneficiaries

Over its 16 years of existence, AGRUPAR has directly benefitted 73,936 people and indirectly helped a further 113,774 people. As of 2018, it reaches 4,500 beneficiaries from highly vulnerable populations annually. 

Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Story
CONQUITO
Gloria Rosero and her entrepreneurship
CONQUITO

Perhaps one of the stories that abound and reflect the uniqueness of AGRUPAR, are the testimonies of hundreds of empowered women. According to statistics, more than 84% of AGRUPAR participants are women. Some joined a decade ago, others recently; there are producers that border the 70 years and others have 22. Beyond these nuances, all share a feeling of satisfaction for the achievements.

 

"The love for the earth, for the plants, for nature, not having to fear that my hands get dirty with soil, is what keeps me together with agroecology," says Gloria Rosero, one of the older Quito's urban farmers. "I have my garden, I plant there with my family, we also harvest and transform, not only the food but the life of the people who consume it. Now we sell in bioferias, consumers already know me and are very grateful, because healthy foods have changed their lives. One of my achievements has been to implement a seed germination microenterprise, with which I support other AGRUPAR farmers and guarantee income to my family. I am the pioneer among women who have found a way of life in Quito's urban agriculture. "

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