Digital Agriculture: Ecuador

Funded by: Inter-American Development BankCountry: EcuadorNotre Dame Collaborators: Pulte InstituteContact: Alejandro Estefan

Climate change, which is linked to agriculture and food security, has increased crop destruction by providing a more amenable environment for pests. Traditional farmer responses to pests involve excessive and often ineffective use of chemicals that degrade the soil, which in turn further reduces crop yields.

Growing practices for palm oil, the most widely traded vegetable oil worldwide, have been linked to deforestation. Ecuador, the third largest palm oil producer in Latin America, is seeking to improve the sustainability of the agricultural practices of its existing palm farms because of concerns about environmental degradation in the Amazon and a desire to improve the income of small-scale producers. Small-scale producers, however, face many challenges. 

In response to these challenges, the Inter-American Development Bank signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme in 2020 to implement SATagro with small-scale palm farmers in the "Comprehensive Amazon Program for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Production" or PROAmazonía in Ecuador. 

SATagro’s goal is to reduce deforestation and degradation while promoting conservation and sustainable use of the Amazonian landscape. It is a platform developed to help small-scale palm farmers adopt sustainable agricultural practices, become more resilient to climate change, and improve their well-being. 

SATagro’s platform combines two-way mobile communication channels, satellite information, and the tools of traditional Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The SATagro team assists farmers by summarizing best practices manuals into information capsules that are distributed using satellite information. Those information capsules provide recommendations and disseminate various alerts and notices to participating farmers.

This project will use a randomized field experiment to identify the most cost-effective way of boosting the income and sustainability of small-scale palm farmers. 

To learn more about SATagro, please contact Paul Winters or Alejandro Estefan.

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