, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 523-550

Migration and Agricultural Change: The Case of Smallholder Agriculture in Highland Ecuador

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Abstract

A large and growing number of agricultural households in less developed countries are also engaged in international migration. Thousands of farmers from the highland provinces of Cañar and Azuay, Ecuador, have immigrated to metropolitan New York, where they work in menial jobs and remit, as a group, millions of dollars annually. This paper examines the effects of international migration on agricultural production and land-use in two regions of Cañar Province. An agricultural survey was administered in two communities to determine land-use and agricultural production of migrant and nonmigrant households. Contrary to most reports on the subject, migration has neither led to agricultural abandonment nor have remittances been dedicated to agricultural improvements. Semisubsistence agriculture remains an important riskaverse economic and cultural activity, but cultivation is a poor investment. A large investment in housing and land has converted much of the region into a peri-urban landscape of cultivated real estate.