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.
During the last six months, the program’s 183 participant families have:
• Planted over 49,000 hardwood and fruit trees, including coffee.
• Converted 101 acres to sustainable/agroecological production while abandoning slash and burn.
• Increased average agricultural income by more than 15% (not including money saved from producing one’s own food and not purchasing agricultural inputs).
• Sold over $26,600 of agricultural products on a local and regional level (coffee, cardamom, pineapple, plantains, basic grains, cassava and other vegetables).
With the supervision and support of their field trainers, farmers have transitioned from once unsustainable practices to an agroecological system of production. In a sincere and honest voice, Antonio Campos of Las Flores shares that if it were not for SHI’s help, he would be left with no forest or soil. “Several years ago I was a forest predator of sorts - cutting and removing trees. However, now I am conscientious of my actions and the importance of reforestation and preserving our water sources.” Antonio now maintains an agroforestry system of 7.5 acres of coffee, plantains, hardwood and fruit trees.