7/2/96 Ethan Adelman
High in the sub-tropical mountains of San Fransico de Pachijal, the Pachijal Cooperative and the Fundacion de Esquel are taking the bull by the horns in an effort to fight poverty. PROCESO, a program of
Esquel that joins in partnership with fledgling businesses in low
income communities, has given the Pachijal Cooperative a jump-start
in the cattle industry by helping them purchase over two hundred
bulls. Sam and I joined a group from Esquel visiting the ranches of
Pachijal leaders Juan Ludena and Castulo Alvarez to administer
medicine to the livestock and check on the progress of the
Life on the farms of Pachijal is hard, and so is getting there. We made the journey through the mud-soaked jungle mountains by foot, by horse and even by tarabita. The tarabita is a tiny basket, strung between two rickety pulleys, that carried us one by one across the rushing waters of the Rio de San Pablo. Although the group from Esquel was wet and tired when they finally reached the farm, they were surprisingly eager to work.
One of PROCESO's main contribution to its partners is in providing technical assistance and training. The bulls, purchased three weeks earlier, had to be given vaccinations to protect them from parasites and viruses. Some of the bulls already had tiny worms, called Nuches, lodged beneath the skin on their backs.
"Without vaccinations of Ivomec (anti-parasite medicine) and Aftobov (anti-virus medicine), these cattle could not survive in this climate," said Angel Torres, an agricultural consultant from Proexant (another non-profit organization) helping Esquel provide medical and technical assistance to the ranchers.
Although they preferred otherwise, the bulls were funneled into a narrow path on the side of the corral and each given the injections. Afterwards, members of the cooperative gathered on the porch of Senor Alvarez to talk with Rafael Pacheco, the head of Proceso, about the conditions of the partnership between Esquel and the Pachijal Cooperative. In one year, when the bulls are fully grown and sold for profit, the ranchers will not only pay back Esquel, but will also be able to independently purchase another herd. This process will be repeated for three to four years until the Pachijal Cooperative obtains a large enough herd to guarantee the sustainability and profitability of the project. At this point, the cooperative will be self-sufficient and Esquel will cease to be a member of the partnership. Rafael stressed that the success of the project relied on the ranchers sharing responsibilities.
"Each of you must understand that these cattle are the responsibility of everyone," he said, "No one person has the biggest or most valuable bull. If a bull dies under the care of one, it is the responsibility of all." Senor Alvarez, although dirty and exhausted from administering medicine to thirty-nine reluctant patients, seemed thankful that the Fundacion Esquel had given him and his neighbors a chance to make a better living. " We want to work," he said as he pointed to his proud companions, "and Esquel has given us the necessary resources to work."
Write to the National Government, Ministerio de Obras Publicas, Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia, and especially the Consejo Provincial de Pichincha and urge them to provide the necessary equipment and personnel to clear a small path through the jungle mountains of Pachinjal so that the ranchers can effectively move the cattle to the market.
Write to El Camal Metroplotinao, the sight where they will sell the cattle, and urge them to establish an agreement with the ranchers so that they will have a secure market and further insurance that development will continue.
Make a donation, not only in the form of money that will help buy vaccines and medical supplies, but also in the form of stock in the cooperative, technical assistance, advice, or ideas on how the ranchers could improve their productivity.