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Founded in 1996 | Thousand Currents Partner since 2023

Comité Central de Mujeres de la Unión de Organizaciones Campesinas e Indígenas de Cotacachi

Centering Indigenous peasant women's ancestry

The Comité Central de Mujeres de la Unión de Organizaciones Campesinas e Indígenas de Cotacachi (CCMU-UNORCAC) is a movement organization founded in 1996 to improve conditions for Indigenous peasant women in Cotacachi, Ecuador by strengthening food sovereignty, preserving seed biodiversity, recognizing the productive, reproductive, and organizational role of women, eradicating violence against rural women, and strengthening cultural practices and ancestral medicinal practices. CCMU-UNORCAC is made up of 31 groups of women that amount to 500 women across 23 communities in the region of Cotacachi town.

CCMU-UNORCAC grows food using agroecology and sells every Sunday at their La Pachamama Nos Alimenta agroecological fairs. The fairs often have 300 smallholder farmers taking part, most of which are women. Cotacachi is recognized as the most agrobiodiverse Ecuadorian county for promoting the conservation of ancestral seeds. 12 out of 17 varieties of corn in Ecuador are found in Cotacachi and and every year about 1,500 people visit and obtain seeds at Muyu Raymi, seed exchange events organized by CCMU-UNORCAC and other formations. CCMU-UNORCAC also brings together 40 agroecological corn producers to sell and process their corn for an economic initiative called Sara Mama: Chicha de Jora. CCMU-UNORCAC developed a chicha factory to produce, bottle, and sell chicha, an ancestral Incan beverage historically brewed by women. CCMU-UNORCAC is also actively working towards the recognition of ancestral Andean gastronomy and medicine. As part of their ancestral medicine work, they organize 40 midwives and 110 health providers to serve the communities and currently 12 young women are being trained in their midwifery school to preserve Andean knowledge and promote the right to intercultural health.

CCMU-UNORCAC won the the Equator Prize Initiative in 2008, and in May 2023, they received a SIPAM (Sistema Importante del Patrimonio Agrícola Mundial) certification by FAO recognizing the Andean Chakra as an ancestral agroforestry system of the Kichwas communities in Cotacachi.

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