SHI-Panama began working with Mr. Roberto Arauz in February. He lives with his wife, who is pregnant and with whom he has seven children: four in school, two younger ones at home, and one adult that could not complete school due to lack of money. His home in Tranquilla Centro is made of thatch and only has one 600 sq. foot room and a kitchen. We were immediately struck by his story of poverty and health problems due to chemical pesticides.
Even though it is our smallest program, SHI-Panama has established itself in the Cocle region of Panama as a preeminent organization working on sustainable rural development. Partnering with local universities and NGOs, Peace Corps Panama and government agencies such as the Panamanian EPA, SHI-Panama has been pivotal in disseminating appropriate technologies, like wood-conserving stoves, and providing training in the core principles of sustainable small-scale farming.
By embracing new ideas, SHI-Panama is altering the face of sustainable agriculture, local markets and more. With the support of SHI business partner, Eco-Libris, the program is organizing bi-monthly “canastas” (or CSA - Community Supported Agriculture as termed in the US) of fresh produce from participants to interested clients in and around Panama City. Currently ten families from El Entradero and others from La Tranquilla, San Pedro and Bella Florida are participating, offering a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, including bananas, plantains, tomatoes, parsley, celery, mustard greens, eggplant and more.
Staff are currently training on ecological and holistic pest management, a more evolved offshoot of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and they are learning concepts related to bio-intensive gardens. Beginning in late winter/early spring, SHI-Panama will begin a comparative analysis of the ecological impact of bio-intensive gardens versus traditional gardens.
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Voices from the Field