What’s unique about the initiative?
The Women In Progress of Carcaje organization is a group of fifteen women dedicated to the production and commercialization of organic vegetables under an associative and solidarity economy scheme. This enterprise, identified by the EcoMujer brand and certified by the SPG (Participatory Guarantee System), promotes ecology and the social and economic empowerment of women, and fights for the food security of women rural producers and the preservation of biodiversity to be included in public policy agendas.
Most outstanding results
The Organización Social de Mujeres en Progreso de Complejo Carcaje – Azirumani “Bartolina Sisa” is twenty kilometres away from the city of Cochabamba. The region where they live, the Valle Alto, was known as the granary of Bolivia, and used to produce maize, wheat and potatoes. In the last decade, the intense use of chemical fertilizers and the effects of climate change have reduced organic production, damaged the environmental ecosystem and dismantled the formerly strong food sovereignty relationships.
Since 2014, eleven women began to dedicate themselves entirely to growing vegetables and rescuing organic farming practices, recovering seeds and natural bio-inputs. Their most difficult challenge was to become productive, be economically sustainable and capable of self-managing and organising themselves. They went from monoculture to producing many different types of vegetables in their family gardens, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce, among others. The water harvesting and automated irrigation allows them to have continuity in irrigation and to save water. They prioritize healthy self-consumption in their families and a renewable and varied system with plants that revitalize the soil.
Their strength is the organisation and the weekly meetings where they weigh the vegetables, fill out control sheets, follow up on their individual earnings and plan future harvests according to the season and to market demands. On the organisational side, the women have developed different skills, such as decision-making, conflict management, and long-term strategic objectives. The organisation is also succeeding in gaining a voice in political spaces in the municipality, fighting for the introduction of sustainable policies that promote food sovereignty in their territory.
Thanks to the help of other organisations, an associative marketing proposal has been developed. In this way, they were able to open a direct sales market in Cochabamba to sell their products, the Kampesino shop. They certify and promote their products with the ‘EcoMujer’ brand, with the aim of valuing the dignified work of women throughout the production process, making them visible as farmers, caregivers, processors and marketers, so that they are no longer unknown and undervalued.
Quote from the evaluation committee
“Although this initiative corresponds to the food issue, many other important issues converge in it, such as women's work, agroecology, food sovereignty and rainwater harvesting. And when we couldn't expect anything else, the organized women of Carcaje manage to put self-management at the center of all of them.”
– Marcela Oliverira
To know more, read this in-depth article. Also, you can scroll down to download the application form filled by this initiative to take part in the Transformative Cities award.