We all remember our first car. We also remember the saving and sacrifice it took to get it. In Ecuador, a farmers' organization purchased its first truck recently, turning a dream into reality. It was partly thanks to a WFP programme in which the farmers learnt better accounting techniques. To show their appreciation, the farmers sent a photo of the truck to WFP's Gabriella Malo, who shares the full story here.
QUITO -- “We have already paid for the license plate and the insurance, and we just paid the first instalment on our truck,” says an excited and proud Florencio Castillo, “It’s beautiful!"
As president of the Asociación de Trabajadores Agrícolas de Manglaralto (ATAM), Florencio is proud that his organization was able to fulfil its long cherished dream of having its own vehicle. With the truck, ATAM will be able to transport locally frown fruit and vegetables to remote communities in the Santa Elena region where WFP and the provincial government assist vulnerable families.
The warm coastal region is often affected by drought. The assistance programme enabled needy local families to buy food using WFP e-vouchers. Much of the food they buy is produced by the ATAM association.
In the past, the association had to rent a vehicle to carry the food to the villages on Santa Elena. Thanks to the new truck, the food will arrive punctually, bringing fresh, locally produced food for poor families with young chiildren.
“The truck was a necessity,” said Florencio, explaining that one of the keys to buying it lay was better accounting procedures, allowing more money to be saved. “We had never done any official accounting work before. With the assistance of WFP, we now know how.
As well as taking part in the voucher assistance programme, Florencio's association also sells produce to farmers that are not ATAM members. In the end, they managed to set a aside a 10 percent portion of the profits from these sales. "We used this money for the downpayment for the truck," he said. "Without WFP, this would not have been possible. Many now congratulate us.”
Symbol of unity, growth
The truck does not only serve as transportation; it is a unifying element and an asset that promises future growth. The truck is now the principal asset that the association has, and it serves as a symbol of solidarity. “Together we decided: If we need money for production costs, we will ask for a loan and pledge the truck as collateral,” said Florencio firmly. He explained that ATAM is drafting regulations and guidelines for the use of the vehicle.
For now, the truck is being kept on the farm of one of the association's members. But Florencio says the plan is to keep it at the ATAM food storage centre. "We will make a shed for it there, to protect it from the sun”. This is an investment that must be protected, the farmers say.