Third Goal

Mushuk Yuyay hosts the IX World Quinua Congress

This is a guest post from Alan Adams, who served in Ecuador from 1967-1969

Evaluating seed.

In the province of Cañar, in southern Ecuador, an association of farmers, La Asociación de Productores de Semillas y Alimentos Nutricionales Andinos Mushuk Yuyay was incorporated in 1994 as a non-profit. It has been serving the farming community of the area ever since, while growing slowly and steadily year by year. This association grew out of the struggle begun in the 1960s during the Ecuadorian agrarian reform. It grew out of the dreams and the vision of the campesino hacienda workers as they achieved their freedom.

It grew through the work of the farmers as they, bit by bit, improved the depleted soils and tried to make a living on the tiny plots of land. They educated themselves. They educated their children. They evaluated the conditions. They made difficult and risky decisions. The Association was named Mushuk Yuyay because that means New Thought. They looked at their reality with a new vision. First improving seed, then developing agroecological methods based on Indigenous knowledge mixed with scientific research. Despite lack of resources or outside assistance, the results were astounding.

Nicolás Pichazaca, founder of Mushuk Yuyay. He found my email address and contacted me in 2013.

These results were what convinced me to join their efforts when, after 50 years of absence, I received an invitation to finish what we had started in the Peace Corps in the 1960s. It will never be finished, but here we are, still going. With the spirit of service of the Friends of Ecuador, we will find more results. The task is, indeed, still towering. Not our task. That belongs to the people who are living it. We are here to help and encourage, to be in the middle of it.

To understand the struggle. And, every day, though I do this remotely, I feel like I’m still in the Peace Corps. First with improved seed, developed through traditional methods, then with homemade fertilizers, adapting to climate change, dealing with economic downturns, and the devastation of emigration, Mushuk Yuyay walked toward their goal.

After years of planning and negotiation, they were able to build a processing plant for their crops. They convinced BanEcuador to lend them money. They developed their own brand. Alli Mikuna means Good Food, and the products can be found throughout Ecuador. Heifer Project saw their work and has contributed machinery and conducted education programs in fertilizer production. Washington State University is conducting participatory research with Mushuk Yuyay in quinua and barley improvement. New varieties have been developed.

Probably most importantly for the economic stability of the region, Mushuk Yuyay is this year able to pay farmers cash for their crops at harvest. Farmers used to take whatever they could get, pay a coyote, and leave the country. Now farmers are supporting their families, buying seed and fertilizer, and planting again. Everybody complains about emigration. Mushuk Yuyay is doing something about it. Years ago, Ecuadorian universities had no interest in Indigenous farmers. Now university students are visiting and doing projects in the Cañari community. La Universidad del Azuay is helping to design the ecotourism facilities Mushuk Yuyay is building. Agricultural, business administration, anthropology, and even theater students have visited.

La Universidad del Azuay also facilitated the collaboration of the University of Milan, Italy to help Mushuk Yuyay develop pasta making utilizing quinua and amaranth in high protein products. The University of Milan sent a pasta making expert, a nutritionist, and machinery expert to advise in establishing the Mushuk Yuyay food lab.

Pasta expert from Milan instructing the local nutritionist and food product development specialist.

This would not happen without increased production. Emigration has caused a serious labor shortage. This has resulted in much crop land being converted to pasture for cattle which is causing an ecological disaster. Mushuk Yuyay is helping remaining farmers pool their labor and resources to plant more quinua.

There are 13 community savings and loan groups that are operating throughout the province of Cañar, even one in Azuay. Mushuk Yuyay is preparing them for support of TCP Global which works with Rotary Clubs worldwide. These groups are planting quinua and other crops that support Alli Mikuna. Now they have markets. One group is composed of returned emigres who bought land at the lower elevation of the province to produce coffee and cacao to flavor quinua products.

Pasual Pichazaca (left), administrator of Mushuk Yuyay, working with a savings and loan group.

As a result of this, quinua production and marketing has risen. Not sharply. One hectare, one bag, one dollar at a time. Not for export or profit, but for the health and well-being of the local population. They will not repeat the mistakes of other quinua producers who have ruined their land to squeeze one more dollar of sales out while the people suffer from malnutrition. Mushuk Yuyay’s motto is “Health is the best business.”

They swear that healthy eating got them through the pandemic. As mentioned above, others are noticing. Now, last year at the VIII World Quinua Congress in Potosí, Bolivia, Mushuk Yuyay was chosen to host the IX World Quinua Congress in March of 2025. This is tremendous honor, a wonderful opportunity, and gigantic challenge. Mushuk Yuyay is putting together a program celebrating the Andean origins, the worldwide present, and the wide open future of quinua. But, they are concentrating on the role of the farmer producer and the health of the consumer.

If you like to donate to Mushuk via Friends, you can visit Friends of Ecuador’s Donate page and PayPal link.

They are celebrating the cultural experience of Indigenous food production by bringing in producers from other Andean areas. They are hoping to include Indigenous peoples of other food traditions as well to show that there are viable alternatives to the globalized over processed products on the store shelves. This is going to be a truly unique World Quinua Congress.

From the sapi, the root, of the grains. I would like to invite Friends of Ecuador to be an integral part of this Congress. I would like to see Friends of Ecuador’s logo and name among the sponsors that will be celebrated during the Congress. Friends of Ecuador has done so much to help Mushuk Yuyay in the past.

If people want to participate by contributing individually or through Friends of Ecuador, they would be welcome to join. I am always ready to speak to anyone interested in Mushuk Yuyay of the Congress. Mushuk Yuyay is providing hope to the youth, job opportunities, economic stability for the region. It is a worthwhile investment for many reasons. Mushuk Yuyay is the good news in Ecuador.

Education workshop at Mushuk Yuyay

If you like to donate to Mushuk via Friends, you can visit Friends of Ecuador’s Donate page and PayPal link.

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Asociación Mushuk Yuyay: Fair Purchase of Cañari 2020 Native Grain Harvest

We encourage our Friends of Ecuador community to support Mushuk Yuyay, an organization we have worked with for several years. 

You can support them through the Ecuador Relief Fund here.

They are hoping to raise $35,000 but whatever support we can provide would be helpful.

The Asociación Mushuk Yuyay is an indigenous-led financial and agricultural cooperative located in the region of Cañar, Ecuador. The association employs a network of local producers to grow native staple crops such as quinoa and amaranth, the harvest of which is purchased by the association at a just price and sold under a commercial label named ‘Alli Mikuna’ – ‘Good Food’ in the native Kichwa language. This label sells their grains primarily to communities within Ecuador, but international purchasers have also shown interest in this nutritious food.

In May 2020, local producers in Cañar initiated the harvest of their staple crops and in June 2020 celebrate the FIESTA DE INTIRAYMI – Kañari festival of the Sun, in gratitude to the Earth Mother Pachamama for the harvest reaped.

During the 2020 harvests, the local production is anticipated to yield:

  • 180,000 Kilograms = 396,828 pounds of BARLEY
  • 21,600 Kilograms = 47,606 Pounds of QUINOA

Under normal circumstances, 40% of this crop is purchased by the Association Mushuk Yuyay, 30% saved for farmer consumption and seedstock, and 30% sold to the local market.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the local markets have remained closed for sanitation purposes, and many producers are left with the question: where to sell the remaining 30% of the crop? With no other outlet of sale, local farmers will likely have to sell to middleman exporters rock-bottom rates for their traditional grain.

In response to this, the local producers in Cañar have requested Asociación Mushuk Yuyay raise funds to purchase the remaining 30% of the 2020 crop at a just price. This is the only available solution they see which does not lead to economic disruption and potential recession for the producers.

For this specific reason, Asociación Mushuk Yuyay has humbly requested donations from the international non-profit community in order to purchase the remaining 30% of this crop and protect their producers from economic exploitation by the export market.

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Peace Corps Community for the Support of Refugees

This is a guest post from Tad Baldwin, Atuntaqui/Quito 1963-65 who is our treasurer emeritus and long-time leader of Friends of Ecuador.

This new NPCA affiliate, Peace Corps Community in Support of Refugees, was formally accepted in the past month.  Tad Baldwin and a handful of Washington, DC based RPCVs have been working for the past year to connect with the nine non-profit State Department contract holders (who have hundreds of affiliates across the country coordinating refugee resettlement) to facilitate greater RPCV involvement in refugee issues.  A number of geographic groups and individuals have been active in this area for a number of years and more opportunities for service exist.  Those with relevant language skills are especially welcome.

The major initiative is support for refugee resettlement within the US.  The non-profits under contract (including the Catholic Bishops, the IRC, Lutherans, etc.) were anticipating a large jump in their work efforts…although those numbers may be halved if the president gets his way.  The roles involved welcoming new families, setting up apartments, helping with school and job searches, and the complex tasks involved in resettlement.  In the coming months information will appear on the NPCA website providing contact information for the local agencies coordinating this work across the country to  help those interested to take the preliminary connection step.  Small groups of RPCVs may chose to undertake all the required tasks on a shared responsibility basis.

A secondary purpose is to advocate for the refugees in our local communities, via churches, community groups and the press, especially in the face of alarming anti-immigrant executive statements.  A third purpose is support for refugees overseas, a more difficult long-distance task that is sidelined for the present.  Some RPCVs have been helping in the Greek Island refugee camps.

Some RPCVs from Ecuador have been involved in services to Columbian refugees and so have experience in this area.  All are now welcome to help! Contact

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“Buen Provecho” Cookbook Featured on National Geographic Website

An update version of the “Buen Provecho” cookbook was published on the National Geographic website.

“You’re holding a wonderful book in your hands, one that was crafted with a scientist’s mind and an artist’s heart. It’s a collection of recipes, wisdom, care, and knowledge that if used right will ease your day, fuel your dreams, and spread a bit of goodness in the world.”

It was the product of many but led by a particularly generous soul who served as a PCV in Ecuador 1997-2001. We remember and honor Laurel Zaks through her many good works, among them, the more-than-a-cookbook Buen Provecho.


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Friends of Ecuador, Back in the Saddle after a Busy Summer

Holy summer of volcanic activity, Batman!

Apologies for the radio silence. We’ve had a busy summer and early fall here at Friends of Ecuador. I’ve been readying for the fall semester at the University of Texas. Ben has completed a move from Kenya to Zambia. So, we’re just finding our feet again, but we’l be reporting some new news from Peace Corps Ecuador, Ecuador, the National Peace Corps Association, and more.

This issue has Cotopaxi active again, the Pope in Ecuador, updates from Peace Corps, and stories from volunteers. For each newsletter, we’ll be sharing some stories from recent El Climas so be on the lookout for several stories each month.

Please send us any comments or feedback or story ideas at

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RPCV Ecuador Sadie Funk’s TEDx talk on the upside of failure and Peace Corps Service

Here is the description of Sadie’s TEDx talk:

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Join me on a virtual trip back to the Ecuadorian Amazon Jungle where I lived with locals (rats, bats, and snakes), drank chicha, spoke Kichwa, and ultimately learned a hard lesson: there is great power in failing.

RPCV Ecuador Sadie Funk’s TEDx talk on the upside of failure and Peace Corps Service Read More »

Happy New Year 2015

Well, we had a busy end of 2014 so we were a little remiss in sending out some updates from Friends of Ecuador in the final months of the year. We’ve got a variety of stories for January, with new recipes from Mary, an RPCV’s TEDx talk, reports from Ecuador, and reports from NPCA on recent legislative success.

If you have any submissions, please get in touch with us at

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Updates from the Peace Corps

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 2.21.17 PMIn the past week, Peace Corps announced significant changes to its recruitment, application, and selection processes (see links on the FOE Facebook page). As part of that process, Peace Corps re-vamped the RPCV pages on the PC website in order to better serve and recognize the RPCV community. Visit the new pages today to:

  • Bring the World Home – Explore everything from video libraries to storytelling tips to help you share your Peace Corps story with others. When you get involved and tell the Peace Corps about your activity, they will send you a free kit of promotional materials. Also, check out the new Third Goal Highlights for stories of great Third Goal work and best practices. If you have a practice or activity you’d like to share as a Highlight, submit it to the Peace Corps at
  • Access resources in the RPCV Virtual Career Center – Let Peace Corps help you find your next job with resources like the RPCV Career Link jobs board, online and in-person RPCV Career Events, one-on-one resume reviews, and career self-assessment software. Also, post your organization’s job opportunities on Career Link for free to recruit other talented RPCVs.

Check out the pages today, share them with your friends, and let the PC know what you think. They’d love your feedback!

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