Good Food for Cities

Affordable quality food for Quito's consumers

March 21, 2024

Ecuador’s rich cuisine owes its diversity to the country’s varying altitudes of specific geographic zones and its associated agricultural conditions. The growing population worldwide and in Ecuador as well, urges for future solutions to feed people quality and affordable food, especially urban consumers. City policies can offer opportunities for farmers and push food production and consumption towards more sustainability.

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Quito province

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Professionalising farmers’ organisations to supply quality food, strengthening responsible consumption and supporting the development of a sustainable food policy.

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What we eat is a reflection of the traditions and customs of our country. Every country has its own typical dishes that express its cultural and natural richness. Ecuadorian cuisine is particularly diverse, varying with the altitude of specific geographic zones and the associated agricultural conditions. This ranges from seafood and plantains in the coastal regions, over cuy (guinea-pig), corn and potatoes in the mountainous regions, to a wide variety of fresh fruits rare or unknown outside the country (gooseberries, granadillas, tree tomatoes, naranjillas, ...), and high-quality coffee and cocoa.This variety and richness should not be taken for granted.

Today, more than 50% of the world population lives in urban areas, and this number a percentage that is expected to grow to 68% by 2050. (UN, Dept of Economic & Social Affairs, 2018). Moreover, with current global trends in diets and population, 60% more food would be needed by 2050 (CCAFS/CGIAR). How to make sure that there will be enough, affordable, quality food available for all consumers, and specifically urban consumers?

There are almost 500 million smallholder farmers worldwide and they provide 80% of the global food production. Linkages and exchanges between cities and peri-urban and rural areas are of crucial importance to food systems and city policies can offer opportunities for farmers and push food production and consumption towards more sustainability.

The same global dynamics can be observed in the region of Quito where the majority of food production rests lies in the hands of small producers in rural areas (61.5%) and 4.6% of the population of the Quito Metropolitan District is engaged in agriculture. However, low wages (USD $15 per day) are hardly an incentive for rural youth to dedicate themselves to agriculture.

The challenges

Like the majority of cities throughout the world, Quito is facing challenges to feed a growing population of more than 2.5 million persons, such as:

  • Chronic infant malnutrition that affects 29% of children in the city, while 63% of the adult population is overweight or obese.
  • The generation of 2,100 tonnes of waste per day, of which 57% is untreated organic waste.
  • Food production that is only able to supply 5% of all the food consumed in the city. The production of the surrounding Pichincha region supplies some 12% of food demand in Quito. The rest comes from other provinces such as Santo Domingo and Manabí.

Consumers' habits in Quito

Without sufficient food production of food, who supplies the city?

In Quito, Rikolto promotes an approach that moves the analysis of food systems beyond supply chain' studies. We investigate the interactions between diverse different levels of government and the sectors implicated in the food supply chain such as health, transport, education and the environment. We aim to support the transition towards sustainable, inclusive, and healthy local food systems.

We should think about these systems with an integrated perspective. There is set of planning instruments that government officials can utilize to include food and nutrition in their policy.

Alain Santandreu

Social Researcher | RUAF Foundation / HIVOS

What will we eat tomorrow?

Food smart cities leading the transition to sustainable food

Between March and August 2019, three journalists from the magazine Eos Tracé visited partner cities of Rikolto's Good Food For Cities programme. During these visits, they interviewed more than 130 people and discovered initiatives that make safer, healthier and sustainable food more accessible to citizens. This book tells their stories from 9 cities in Vietnam, Belgium, Tanzania, Indonesia, Ecuador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Download the book

Rikolto works to...

1 | Professionalise farmers’ organizations

Professionalize farmers’ organizations of Pedro Moncayo and Cayambe (UCCOPEM, RESSAK, and Biovida) to supply quality food to the Quito Metropolitan District in a timely and sustainable manner.

  • By contributing to the improvement of quality management and sustainable processes.
  • By empowering farmers and youth to adopt climate change adaptation practices.
28 years ago I joined UCCOPEM working in children’s centers. Afterwards I started to grow vegetables but we didn’t have a place to sell what we produced. Now, since we sell in the agroecological market in Quito and I am more motivated.

Carmen | UCCOPEM farmer

2 | Strengthen responsible consumption

Strengthen responsible consumption in Quito Region with the cooperation of the stakeholders in the food system.

  • By encouraging a commitment to family and agroecological farming in the business environment through various communication strategies and through the establishment and promotion of a new commercial network for Yachik’s agroecological products.
  • By documenting and replicating different urban food initiatives that are already in place in Quito.
  • By supporting new studies and research to better inform decision-makers.
  • By advocating the National Association of Food and Beverage Manufacturers (ANFAB) for the incorporation of sustainable practices in the production of mass-consumption foods for the local and export markets.

3 | Support the development of a sustainable food policy

Support the development of a sustainable food policy for the Quito Metropolitan District of Quito through a local and international platform, and by working closely with the Agency for Economic Growth CONQUITO and the Latin American Center for Rural Development (RIMISP)

  • By participating in the Rural Dialogue Group to establish synergies with decision makers and public policy managers in the Quito Region.
  • By encouraging the systematization of learning in the promotion of youth entrepreneurship among rural young people that are members of RENAJER.
In the construction of an urban food system in Quito, one of the biggest challenges is the supply of quality food to the city; we still don't know how it is produced (conventional, organic, agro-ecological production system), how it is processed and how food reaches the population in formal and informal markets

Nataly Pinto | (former colleague) Rikolto in Latin America adopting a three-teer approach.

We implement the project activities by adopting a three-teer approach

  • Level 1 | Piloting with cities. Together with our partners, we develop and disseminate innovative and scalable practices at the city-region level that contribute to sustainable, fair and healthy food systems.
  • Level 2 | Learning cycle. We facilitate the sharing of experience and peer-to-peer learning among cities in close collaboration with strategic allies such as the City Food Network, ICLEI and RIMISP.
  • Level 3 | Influencing the international agenda. We share the evidence we gather from the field to advance the political agenda in favour of sustainable food systems and inclusive rural-urban food chains.
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What we have achieved so far

The Quito Food Charter

On 2 October 2018, Quito became one of the few cities in Latin America to have signed a food charter outlining its commitment to a sustainable food system in the city. The “Quito Food Charter” comprises 17 agreements between food system stakeholders in the city-region that are built on 5 pillars:

  1. Management of food resources for the future
  2. Food security, sovereignty and nutrition
  3. Urban-rural linkages and an inclusive food economy
  4. Reducing food losses and waste
  5. Food governance

The Quito Agrifood Pact

We participated in the development of a sustainable food strategy and its implementation through the multi stakeholder platform “Quito Agrifood Pact” composed of farmers, civil society, the agri-food industry, nutritionists, researchers and international partners. Rikolto together with ConQUITO and the RUAF Foundation has been leading the discussion within the platform.

The City of Quito was awarded a Future Policy Award from FAO, IFOAM and the World Future Council for its innovative and participatory food policy.

Creating markets for agroecological produce

We supported the partner organisation UCCOPEM (the Union of Rural and Indigenous Organisations Chochasquí Pedro Moncayo) in the creation of Yachik, a commercial brand that enables smallholder farmers to sell their agroecological produce in the city. Nowadays their products are sold in existing urban markets and thanks to an agreement with the government, a retail area has been allotted to the farmers in the Agroecological market on the Government Financial Management Platform in Quito.

Farmers of Yachik, a commercial brand of small-scale farmer organisations from Pedro Moncayo and Cayambe – rural provinces in the north of Ecuador - are banking on themselves and their agroecological products by taking part in existing urban markets or by organising new ones.
With Yachik we aim to resolve one of our principle problems as farmers: the lack of markets. More selling areas and more clients bring more income for our families and our products don’t go to waste.

Rosa Inlago | Horticulturalist and member of UCCOPEM

A solid collaboration with RIMISP to involve youth and spread rural knowledge

RIMISP is a network that generates and systematizes knowledge, with the aim of understanding the transformations of the rural world and contributing to the formulation of improved strategies and policies for a sustainable and inclusive development. Together with Rikolto, RIMISP carries out on a monthly basis a “Rural Dialogue Group” and has launched a youth entrepreneurship network involving 15 provinces throughout the country

Working together with Rikolto meant that we jointly developed the city's food policy. This process involved strategic planning, gathering multiple actors to listen to their point of views and bringing in new ideas from Latin America and other parts of the world

Paola Ramón

Director of Productivity | Quito Municipality

Who do we work with?

Consejo Metropolitano de Responsabilidad Social
City of Quito
Banco de Alimentos
Consejo provincial de Pichincha
Slow Food
Minga por la Pachamama
UDLA University
UCE University
School of Gastronomy


Nataly Pinto Alvaro

(former Programme director in Latin America) | Ecuador

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