QUITO – Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa granted 2,500 property titles to peasants and Indians in the central Andean province of Chimborazo as part of a government plan to redistribute land that is not being put to productive use.
Roughly 1,000 peasants in the Guano and Chambo districts of Chimborazo were beneficiaries of the titles, and the government also awarded low-interest loans for improving production and strengthening agricultural associations, the presidential press office said.
The leftist president, in a ceremony Friday in the Cuatro Esquinas community of Guano, recalled that during the last three years of his presidential term in office, more than 50,000 land titles have been granted in a number of provinces around the country.
“That is much more than in the last 30 years,” he said, adding that it is an example of what amounts to a “citizens’ revolution” under his administration.
He added that his plan to transform Ecuadorian society includes the principle of no more landless peasants, which the government hopes to achieve by granting 250,000 land titles over the next three years.
The ceremony also featured authorities of the state-run BNF development bank awarding a $1.5 million loan to peasants and Indians associated in the agricultural cooperative for the purchase of 164.8 hectares (407 acres) of land from a ranch in the area, which will be dedicated to farming.
That project, which will benefit some 65 families, Correa said, will allow agricultural work of the cooperative, aided by technology and infrastructure works, to achieve “maximum productivity.”
The leader of that association, Daniel Quishpe, said that the project will spur greater production in the area and improve the quality of life of the inhabitants, since it will serve to promote education, health care and housing for the families involved.
For his part, Agriculture Minister Ramon Espinel said that the granting of land titles to peasants seeks “to reduce the inequality that exists between rich and poor.”
He recalled that loans have also been awarded to local peasants to improve their sheep breeding, which forms part of a cooperation agreement with the government of Uruguay to restore flocks of sheep to that Andean area.
The awarding of loans, the minister said, is directed to small producers and is part of a vision entitled “Sumak Kausay” (Buen Vivir in Quechua), established by the nation’s Constitution in an effort to redirect Ecuador’s rural development.
The new system, he said, will help farm families prosper and will democratize access to the means of production, particularly the land.