Establishing a rural bank in Los Alonsos, Panama, didn’t just provide access to credit for Nancy Alonso and her community. The bank has meant more freedom, independence, and opportunity for women like Nancy and their families.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says giving women the same access as men to agricultural resources could increase production on women's farms in developing countries by 20 to 30 percent. This could raise total agricultural production in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent and alleviate the hunger of 100 to 150 million people.
We see every year how access to agricultural resources help women. Right now, a third of our program partners are women with entrepreneurial spirits who are farming to help their families survive while achieving their ambitions and becoming leaders in their communities to help “pay it forward.”
Piedras Gordas, Panama— 31 years ago, amidst the festivities of patronales in Santa Marta, Panama, Urita and Joaquín first met. Saint Martha, is the patron saint of the small town where Urita was born and raised. Every year, Saint Martha is celebrated on July 29, during patronales.
People from all over had come to celebrate, play music, and feast. If you’ve ever attended a patronales celebration, the sounds of salomas (Panamanian shouts), the colors of the polleras (skirts), and the smells of bollos de maiz nuevo (sweet corn tamales) will already be familiar to you. Imagine a town full of flowers and bursts of color—everyone wearing their best hats, blouses, and earrings, dressed to the nines (including Urita and Joaquín).
It had been six years since I last visited Isabel’s farm and I didn’t know what to expect. The sound of rocks scraping the bottom of the rental car had gotten worse since picking up three additional passengers. After thirty minutes of jolting along the dusty road, I was relieved when we had to walk the last quarter mile. The hedge of hibiscus preceding the path to Isabel’s house looked the same, but the farm beyond looked less abundant than I remembered. I began to worry that our efforts had been in vain.