Two out of three Bolivians live in poverty. In rural areas, subsistence farmers are unable to sell any extra produce on local or regional markets.
With CIDA's support, SOCODEVI, a Canadian non-governmental organization, decided to help these farmers diversify and find new crops to grow and sell.
[Roberto Muñoz Torres]: "Greetings and welcome. We're in Tomina, in the Department of Chuquisaca, in the heart of Bolivia."
"To be more precise, we're in the Cooperative of San Mauro in Tomina. We work for UNEC, the Spice and Condiment Business Unit, a business that specializes in producing, processing, and marketing spices and condiments."
"UNEC was established about ten years ago, thanks to the support of the Canadian International Development Agency [CIDA]. Through SOCODEVI, CIDA funds economic initiatives such as producing oregano."
"By growing oregano, our farmers earn cash three times a year. This has changed their quality of life. Today, they can send more children to school and improve their health and their homes. Women have been able to enter the labour market."
[Celia Salazar]: "My name is Celia Salazar. I am in charge of planting oregano, using seeds and cuttings. As you can see, only women work here. You may be wondering, 'Why hire only women?'
"As you can see, these plants must be handled delicately, and we women are more careful. That's why only women work here."
"Some of us are older women. Before nobody worked outside the home."
"I want to thank UNEC for establishing itself here. That made it possible for women to find paid work. Now we can send our children to school, and help our siblings and families."
CIDA, SOCODEVI and UNEC are helping the Bolivian cooperative movement to:
[Juan Flores]: "My name is Juan Flores. I work for the community of Canalla. I've been growing oregano for at least eight years. In the beginning, we had no work. We didn't know anything about growing oregano.
"In the past, before we started growing this crop, we didn't live as well. We grew potatoes, which we could harvest only once or twice a year. With God's blessing, this oregano-growing project started up. Now, we harvest three or four crops a year.
"Before, those of us who lived in the country ate very little. Now, we eat like people in a village or a city. We are able to buy things with the profits from our crop."
Today nearly 1,000 farmers are growing oregano. They have doubled their incomes—to about $220 per year—and it makes all the difference in the world to their future and that of their families.
Stimulating sustainable economic growth in developing countries is one of CIDA's priority themes.