Zooming in: A field inquiry to learn about differentiated practices for sustainable livestock farming in Ecuador

Experiment 4 Data Powered Positive Deviance
P4 Testing

April 26, 2022
Paulina Jiménez; Ana M. Grijalva, Aymé Muzo, Catherine Vogel

For more details on the project background, please read our first blog on this series “Launching the Data Powered Positive Deviance Initiative”.

The UNDP Ecuador Accelerator Lab, along with GIZ Ecuador, the GIZ Data Lab, and the University of Manchester, conducted a Data Powered Positive Deviance (DPPD) pilot in 2020–21 to learn about local, effective, and desirable cattle ranching practices in two cantons of the Ecuadorian Amazon: Joya de los Sachas and Sucúa. Our goal was to generate evidence of local solutions to inform the PROAmazonia programme that aims to reduce CO2 emissions through the mitigation of deforestation and the promotion of sustainable land use.

Desk validation and data cleaning

Sample design and access to informants

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Photo taken by Emily Wilkinson during a meeting with the local technicians of the Amazonian Agenda of the Productive Transformation (ATPA) from MAG Sucúa with the aim of setting a field work schedule using the identification of farmers´ location in territory

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Photo by Ricardo Araguillin. Interview with a cattle farmer in Sucúa Cantón, Morona Santiago province

Responsible data collection

Field interviews and findings

Overall we interviewed 16 farmers. We asked them questions related to their socioeconomic status, income generating activities, livestock feeding and management techniques, soil use, environmental attitudes, and the training they had received. Our interview instrument combined closed questions with semi-structured ones that were intended to characterize farmers, identify attitudes and practices towards forest conservation, and to learn about knowledge sources and exchanges.

From their responses and our field observations, we learned that forest conservation was rather driven by extrinsic factors than by intrinsic, positively deviant attitudes towards the forest or farming practices; and these extrinsic factors appeared in both farms that had been categorized as possible positive and non-positive deviants in our quantitative research.

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Photo by Ricardo Araguillin. Livestock in paddocks in Cantón Joya de los Sachas

We identified three main factors:

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A feeder made with a recycled tire to prevent wasting minerals and salt that otherwise would have been scattered throughout the field for cattle to consume while grazing. Photo by Ricardo Araguillin

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Placing a cut gumboot around a calf’s mouth to prevent it from drinking its mothers’ milk so that the farmer can collect it. Photo taken by Aymé Muzo

The challenges we experienced

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