The lush mountainsides of Honduras are a beautiful sight, especially en route to the communities of Buenos Aires, El Cacao and Brisas del Mar.
Here, in these coffee-producing communities close to the Guatemalan border, SHI is working with farming families to diversify their coffee and cardamom plots, especially as the coffee rust fungus (Hemileia vastatrix) cripples the local economy.
With support from Partners of the Americas volunteers and Instituto Hondureño de Café, SHI-Honduras has been teaching coffee producers techniques to reduce the chance of rust, as well as alternative income ventures such as preparing locally grown plantains as tajadas, or plantain chips.
SHI-Honduras recently evaluated more than 200 participant families who have just completed Phase 2.
While the outcomes are still being compiled and verified, it is apparent that families have significantly altered their farming practices and their perception of organic agriculture. In fact, a majority of the farmers are sharing the knowledge gained from SHI with neighbors and family members.
With the transition of farming families from Phase 2 to 3, and a new emphasis on marketing, SHI-Honduras has been focusing its efforts on building local partnerships and developing an eco-fair in the community of Trinidad, Santa Barbara.
During the previous six months, the program has:
• planted 7,780 trees of six local varieties (mixture of coffee, forestry/ hardwoods and fruit);
• cultivated 112 acres with agroecological techniques including alley cropping, holistic pest management, cover crops, green manures and crop rotation;
• installed 47 new chicken coops and building 20 metal grain silos;
• 70 new farming families participated in the commercialization of their surplus grains, fruits and vegetables;
• more than 1,000 non-participating farming families trained in agroecological farming by SHI participants.
• 53 farming families produced over 200 quintals (20,000 lbs) of bocashi (fertilizer) for their group plots of cassava, plantains, cabbage and taro.
SHI-Honduras has experienced considerable change over the last few months with the hiring of a new Country Director, Claudia Carcamo and relocating the office to El Progreso, Yoro. With these transitions, SHI-Honduras is expecting a fruitful year of partnership building, community engagement and sustainable agriculture promotion.
Participants in the Santa Barbara region are now transitioning from Phase 2 to 3, where they will begin focusing more on income generating activities and the diversification of crops for commercial purposes. In the second half of the fiscal year, the Honduras program hopes to focus more of its efforts on commercialization and engaging local farmers in sustainable markets that guarantee a fair price.
Some measurable results during the last six months include
• planting 102,081 trees of 19 local varieties (mixture of coffee, forestry/ hardwoods and fruit); • using an average of 10 sustainable techniques, including cover crops and green manures, contour lines and terracing, living and dead barriers, use of local/native seeds and crop association;
• planting over six acres of cover crops and green manures, in particular Mucuna pruriens; • producing 100% of the fruit and vegetables consumed by families; • increasing income by 25% for some participants through the sale of cardamom, passion fruit, coffee, honey, beans and other crops;
• distributing 105 new micro loans totaling $18,735.
Currently more Honduran families have entered the third and fourth phases of our program than any other country. Ninety-one rural farmers and families are now diversifying their crops with pineapple, cassava, coffee and plantains for commercialization.
SHI-Honduras recently hosted a Partners for the America volunteer, whose ongoing work will strengthen the program’s efforts to improve local ecosystems. Together they will be taking measures to rehabilitate and protect vital water sources in the many communities where we work.
Some results during the last quarter and fiscal year include:
• 40,782 trees planted (including coffee seedlings)
• 70 acres being cultivated sustainably and organically
• 1,000 liters of bio-fertilizers & foliar fertilizers produced and applied
• $4,200 in additional income generated by 64 families
• 12 educational / training workshops held.
During the last fiscal year, SHI-Honduras participants planted more than 78,000 trees, cultivated 235 acres sustainably and generated $13,198 in income through sale of harvests and value-added products.
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Voices from the Field