The November visit also provided an opportunity to take stock of the greenhouse project. Yves Poiré, president of the foundation, and I were able to exchange with the single mothers who worked in this pilot project, which is a first in Guayaquil. Despite the strong preconceptions about women’s work in agriculture, all mothers consider that this project has helped them decisively and all wish to continue.
We recall here how this project differs from other activities: unlike the infirmary, make-up or guitar workshops, it is for them, beyond the apprenticeship, to receive a salary for the work they do. It is therefore both a question of training in organic farming, and of offering an income in the family. At a time when many of the women in the community have lost their only jobs due to the pandemic crisis, we felt that this new way of helping better met the need of the moment and offered the Rosalia Foundation the opportunity to finance itself locally.
But beyond the social experience, the greenhouse project is also a business project and it is clear that there is still progress to be made in terms of production. The harvest was indeed affected by an attack of “negrita” (Prodiplosis longifila) which is the corollary of organic crops. Faced with their proliferation, the Board of Pascuales decided to temporarily suspend the project and the production of tomatoes – which initially ran at the rate of one ton per week, and allowed it to not be loss-making.
However, this should not overshadow the results that these groups of single mothers have achieved is extraordinary. First of all, the structure of the greenhouses keeps its promises: it was not necessarily won, because it is a large construction 9 meters high by 1500 square meters. Everything else was carried out by the groups of mothers: irrigation systems, nursery, planting, germination, canals, supports for plants (500 poles 3 meters high). All this with the advice and help of Tito, project manager.
Finally, all is not lost: after analyzing the causes, it is considered that this insect would have entered stupidly through the front door, and its proliferation would be due to a lack of closer surveillance. These two points can be corrected: the first by adding an entrance airlock, the second by offering more support to the teams of mothers. In addition, the greenhouse and all its equipment (irrigation system, etc.) remain fully functional. This gives us good reason to think that we should try a second harvest in the hope of better results.