Restarting Production

October 24 2022 | by

THE RURAL villages of Mapasingue and La Puca are just two of the 17 villages that make up the parish of San Rafael of Colón in the municipality of Portoviejo, capital of the Province of Manabí, Ecuador. Mapasingue has a population of 2,389, and La Puca of 1,007. The lowest salary in the area for a day’s work in the countryside is around US$ 8.50. Unfortunately, although there is a high level of schooling in the area, many children reject education in favour of agricultural activities.


Fair prices


“Over the last five years, we as a parish have been able to set up seven farmer’s associations with a total of 209 associated families,” says Father Walter Coronel, the parish priest. “The main purpose of these associations has been the sale of agricultural produce cultivated by the members at fair prices. The intention was to stop the exploitation of some of the peasant farmers who had no option but to sell their produce at very low prices to wholesalers from the nearby cities.” The main crops are corn, cocoa, peanuts, and tropical fruits. Each farmer has somewhere between two and three cultivatable hectares.

The COVID-19 pandemic had made the economic situation of the farmers and their families even worse than before. Consequently, the parish wanted to give the farmers in these two villages, 55 families belonging to the Agricultural Association of San Lorenzo, a ‘boost’ by donating corn seeds and fertiliser. “The idea was to restart agricultural production and reactivate the economy of the area,” explains Fr. Walter. This would be a targeted project in order to assess its benefits. “By identifying a beneficiary body and villages for the project we would be able to follow the progress of the project and be able to evaluate the success in more detail together with any stumbling blocks along the way,” he continues.


Agricultural kit


A proposal was drawn up to provide each of the families with an ‘agricultural kit’ consisting of a 20 kg sack of seeds and eight sacks of fertiliser weighing around 50 kg each. Each family would undertake to make a contribution of US$ 100 at the end of production. “This ‘restitution’ would create a small fund to be managed by the agricultural association,” says Fr. Walter. “It would be used in subsequent years to provide funds to members in the form of a ‘loan’ to ensure they have the necessary funds to start production the following year.” A sum of €28,000 was approved by St. Anthony’s Charities to support the project. Further funds, bringing the total up to nearly €36,000 were received from the local parish charitable fund, and individual donors in Italy.

Within four days of receiving the funds in early May 2022, it was possible to purchase both the seeds and the fertiliser and distribute these to the families. The products were purchased from a local company and were in compliance with the regulations issued by the Ecuadorian Ministries for Agriculture and Health.


Exultant joy


“Thanks to the generosity of St. Anthony’s Charities and the readers of The Messenger of Saint Anthony, I have the great pleasure of being able to inform you – with exultant joy – that we successfully concluded our project,” reports Fr. Walter. “The project has given the 55 families involved a real push in improving the agricultural production in the area and has directly affected their economic situation. Seeking to promote projects like this one was the right choice, and it has ensured the dignity of the families in the village in spite of the economic difficulties they have been facing.”

After the conclusion of the project, a farmer from the village of Mapasingue writes, “We sincerely thank those who helped us with the seed and fertiliser kits. We really needed this help to restore our agricultural production and improve the economic situation of our families. The contribution of US$ 100 at the end of the production and marketing of our products will help our association have funds in the future to help members who are in difficulty also to buy seeds and fertilizers. Thank you very much for this gift. A sign of providence.”

Another farmer from La Puca writes, “A big thank you for those who have helped us with this project, which will greatly help to improve the economic conditions of the families of our association and the whole of the Mapasingue and La Puca area. Our commitment to work with great dedication to improve our agricultural production is also a sign of thanks to the organisations that have made this help possible.”

And finally, the wife of one of the La Puca farmers writes, “I am overjoyed with the help we received. Our family would like to thank St. Anthony’s Charities for making this project possible. Together with my children, we assure St. Anthony’s Charities and all the readers who wanted to help us with these bags of seeds and fertiliser of our constant prayers.”


Real success


“Dear friends,” concludes Fr. Walter, “Thanks to your generosity, we can once again thank our Lord for a new project completed with real success. I am the bearer of many other gestures of thanks and gratitude from the families directly involved in the project. They also express their desire to pray for the many benefactors of St. Anthony’s Charities. Once again, we thank our beloved Saint Anthony who for years through his powerful patronage has been the main sponsor of many of our projects. We entrust to him every project that we have managed to develop with your support. Although projects like ours may seem like a small ray of light in the midst of many shadows, they are, for those involved, signs of the true Love of God that in your generosity has found His Hands to be able to reach with the caress of work that brings dignity to so many brothers and sisters in our parishes.”

Updated on October 27 2022