The Institute for Self Reliant Agriculture's demonstration farm at La Universidad Technica del Norte

Today the staff from The Institute for Self Reliant Agriculture took us to their demonstration farm and research plots at La Universidad Technica del Norte in Ibarra, Ecuador. They have an impressive program where they show rural farmers how to improve the food production on their land.
Pablo, Sixto and Raquel gave me a tour of the project
Here they have set up the one hectare (2.47 acres) small scale agriculture model that was developed by the Benson Institute at Brigham Young University. The model teaches families to grow the crops and animals necessary for them to become nutritionally self sufficient and to improve their lives economically.

The alfalfa is doing very well. This is the dry season so some of the grain has not been planted yet.
The model includes planting a garden with a variety of vegetables to provide a balanced diet for the family, grains for the main part of the family's diet and forage and grain to feed the animal that provide the rest of the protein for the family's diet.
Potato and sweet potato are growing well in the demonstration garden

 The family also has small animal which are chosen based on the needs and the experience of the family. Chickens are usually one of the animals, rabbits, goats, and guinea pigs are other animals used in the model.

Here the SRA is raising guinea pigs that will be distributed to the families in the program. They grow rapidly only eating alfalfa and are a staple food in Ecuador.

Guinea pigs raised to be distributed to the families in the program. These will be the base for the families production of guinea pigs.
SRA and the University make good partners as they compliment the work that each of them is doing. SRA technicians teach the students how small scale agriculture can be used to break the chain of poverty for the rural farmers in the distant regions of the country.