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Revista Latinoamericana de Desarrollo Económico

Print version ISSN 2074-4706On-line version ISSN 2309-9038


CASTILLO, María José  and  BEILOCK, Richard. Selling their Best for Little: The Riddle of Ecuador's Failed Attempt to Assist Communal Farmers. rlde [online]. 2004, n.2, pp.123-142. ISSN 2074-4706.

In the 1980s, Ecuador began an expensive project providing primary irrigation canals to the Santa Elena Peninsula. The intended beneficiaries were the region's communal farmers. Instead, virtually all irrigable lands have been sold to large farmers and land speculators, usually at exceedingly low prices. While political and economic abuses explain some of these sales, introduction into a communal setting of an innovation which improved returns to capital relative to labor made land divestitures almost inevitable. With effectively no access to credit, communal farmers had little ability to invest in secondary irrigation systems. Moreover, because users of irrigable lands did not fully control communal sales decisions, as these lands became attractive to others, dispossession risks rose. The net result was that reservation prices for holding these lands fell among communal farmers at the same time of increased demands for these assets by those outside the comunas. Implications for development strategies are also discussed.

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