H.A. Weeks; J. Alwang
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Abstract: The standard farm system in rural Upper Guanujo in the region of the Bolivar Province of Ecuador includes dairy cattle as one of the primary sources of income for residents in this area. Though per capita consumption of dairy products among Ecuadorians is the highest of the countries in the Andean Region of South America, widespread production for the domestic retail market is lacking in many areas of the country.
Of the total dairy producers in Ecuador, 85% are considered small scale, integrated rural producers. Through identification of the entire dairy production chain, from producer through retail merchant, a clear profile of the current dairy market can be described in our sample area. Inefficiencies exist in the linkages between the producers, intermediaries, processors, and marketers. By identifying these barriers, recommendations can be made concerning improvements that may benefit all levels of the production chain. In turn, the producers’ ability to improve household incomes through the production of dairy products has a great effect on their willingness to adopt new practices, which impacts their direct environment, including the Chimbo River Watershed.
Investigation of current trends in the dairy product marketing chain provides an overview of one of the principal livelihood strategies in the region. One of the main objectives of the SANREM CRSP is to improve watershed quality through participatory environmental management. This study offers alternatives for improvement and development of the watershed through actions of dairy market chain members. The enhancement of livelihoods of residents in Upper Guanujo, through advancement in cheese production, should lead to higher disposable incomes, giving communities the opportunity to expend part of their returns on environmental recovery measures.