Thanks to SHI, Panamanian farmer José Aníbal Valdés and his family now count on three nutritious meals each day. José, 54, and his wife, Catalina, live with their eight children and one granddaughter in the community of El Entradero in Panama. In addition to farming, José also worked as a bus driver for his family’s sustenance; but there were many days that he earned only enough for his family’s supper.
In his own words: "When I used agrochemicals, I did not know that I could be poisoning the environment… At that time, I did not know that right on my own land I had materials to make organic compost and natural pest controls; nobody had ever told me about those things. I just worked according to our customs and traditions. I visited my neighbor and there I met the Field Trainer, Diomedes Arrocha, and the micro-business promoter from SHI-Panama. My neighbor was already working with them and selling some crops that he had harvested from a small parcel near his house. With SHI’s help, he was earning more money than I earned at my job during a week.
I was interested in knowing if I could do organic farming and what help I could receive; the answer was that 'SHI needed families with a willingness to work hard.' Now, I have the technical assistance, seeds for the plantings, and I know how to make organic compost, natural pest repellents and other items we use. At this time, I have a parcel of tomatoes, red beans, peppers and corn. It is nearby, so we can harvest close to home.
My wife and children are very excited because we know that we are now secure in having food three times a day. Now, we have work every day; before, we only thought about where we would earn some money, and when there was no work to be had, there was nothing else we could do…
My family and I are very grateful to SHI and all the people who support the organization, for their willingness and ability to help humble families because, in truth, we need it. Thank you very much."