Church World Service Latin America and the Caribbean, CWS LAC/ALC
By Don Tatlock:
Melecio is a 27-year-old farmer in rural Honduras who lives in a mountainous part of the country, three hours from the closest paved road, with his wife and two children. Earlier this year, he heard about a sustainable smallholder agricultural training program supported by Church World Service (CWS) and being implemented by local partner, Mennonite Commission for Social Action, CASM.
He was interested in the training because he had seen other farmers in the area using the new methods, and their crops looked and produced much better than his. So he got in touch with Cesar, CASM´s extension agent who came to visit his farm in early 2013. At this time Melecio was planting only corn, beans, and coffee and the yields were never enough to make it through the year, and low coffee prices meant that he wasn’t able to purchase the food his family needed in between harvests.
Following this visit, Melecio and Cesar worked together to put together a plan for the farm and Melecio also had the opportunity to participate in various practical trainings during which he learnt that if he diversified his crops he would have food throughout the year, and that he could grow foods high in carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that would give his children more energy.
In the drawing for his farm around his home you can see orange and lemon trees, a cherry tree, and where he is making compost for his vegetable garden. He would also like to add a chicken pen, but is still saving up for building materials.
Melecio also learned that if he plants his corn in rows he can intercrop vegetables and other crops in the spaces between plants. He now grows 27 crops, each one harvested at different times of the year. These include corn, beans, squash, lettuce, Swiss chard, mustard greens, onions, garlic, cabbage, lemons, cherries, oranges, plantains, bananas, sugar cane, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, and more.
Today, because of the diversity of crops and better yields, Melecio is able to feed his family and save the money from his coffee harvest to spend on things that will make life better for all. These include school fees for his children, medicine, a metal roof for their home and, in the future, chickens. Melecio continues to consult with Cesar, and now he accompanies him on visits to other farmers in his community to pass on his experiences and encourage them to learn.
Melecio has heard of other families talk about migrating in search of work and better opportunities and at one time, he thought he would have to do the same. However, now with all the has learnt and the tools he has to diversify and increase his yield, he does not see the need to risk the treacherous migratory journey and feels his family is better staying together on their own farm.
CWS food security and nutrition work in Honduras is made possible with support from Food Resource Bank.
Photo: In the drawing for his farm around his home you can see orange and lemon trees, a cherry tree, and where Melecio is making compost for his vegetable garden (Don Tatlock CWS LAC)
Source: Church World Service Latin America and the Caribbean, CWS LAC: http://www.cwslac.org/en/index.php?cat=203
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