| FOOD CHAIN No. 1 - November 1990 |
Marketing, probably the most difficult part of any development project, is carried out in a highly organized way by UAPPY ( Union of Associations of Producers and Processors of Yuca). It is UAPPY which takes on the marketing, provision of courses, bulk buying of materials and machinery for its member groups, and - most of all - fights to keep prices high and rising. Each APPY owns a chipper and a mill, which are now built in Manabi, with only the motors imported from abroad; each also owns a drying area, barns and offices. This is where most money is needed for investment. It is hoped that the carefully built infrastructure will last 20 years or more, and also as time goes on, will be used for drying other crops such as coffee, maize and peanuts.
One of the advantages of building small processing plants in rural areas is that they can be used
on almost a daily basis for many different purposes. For example, the slightly sloping drying floors become good dance floors, the office serves as a meeting room for the village, the barn becomes a safe place to store crops temporarily (most farms in Ecuador do not have even short-term storage facilities) and the new wells become village meeting points. Women are increasingly joining the APPYs even though processing is traditionally undertaken by men.
The possibility of further processing cassava to make starch for domestic bread-making is being explored. Bread-making is traditionally a woman's activity, and a new APPY comprised entirely of women is being formed to undertake the starch processing.
Once an APPY has a sizeable amount of cassava flour ready, contact is made either with the UAPPY office in Protoviejo, Manabi or through ECAE. Trucks are then sent to a central point for collection with all the necessary forms completed, and often a member of UAPPY accompanies the driver to the factory in Guayaquil, where the shipment is handed over after weighing and the signing of documents. The UAPPY in Manabi normally takes 4 per cent to cover its marketing costs. The balance is then handed over to the individual APPY, where it is used for the purchase of more fresh cassava from members or non-members and payment of wages and so on.
Cassava roots can be harvested individually oves time without damaging the living plant.
'Co-ordination and information exchange have been characteristics of this project from the beginning.'
At the end of the processing season, when the final profits are worked out, the profit-sharing scheme is then implemented. Out of the profits, 40 per cent goes towards reinvestment in the APPY (new buildings, drying platforms, etc.) 40 per cent is shared out amongst the members of the APPY, according to how much time they have donated to the organization during the processing season; 10 per cent is put into a savings account in the bank as an emergency fund; and the remaining 10 per cent is used as an educational and administrative fund which is used occasionally to pay an accountant, buy a typewriter, or equip the office. The scheme has worked exceedingly well to date, and in the early years, the APPYs frequently reinvested 80 per cent of their profits, according to local need and decisions. The people chose to invest in buildings, drying trays and floors, and even in land in one case - a sure sign of confidence in the project.
Some key points in the organization of the project have contributed to this success. The formation of an inter-institutional committee with representatives from the state, international organizations, farmers and NGOs has meant that co-ordination and information exchange have been characteristics of this project from the beginning. The APPYs have local control and the overall marketing is carried out by the UAPPY.
Paramount to the success has been the participation of the farmers themselves and their keenness to try new ideas and make suggestions. Debate has at times been heated, but always constructive. The farmers gave freely of their time, materials and knowledge once they realized that the project was basically controlled by themselves through the UAPPY; in Esmeraldas, campesinos have even written three songs about the project and what it has meant in their lives.