My family has been farming in Honduras for generations. In fact, at one time, my father was the largest cotton producer in the country, and all of my siblings and I studied agriculture while at university. So we know the important role that agriculture plays in lifting communities out of poverty, solving hunger issues and giving people new economic opportunities.
Since 2013, AHSAFE-Honduras has been involved in the ACCESO project, a four-year initiative in Honduras funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). We train farmers on best practices in pest management, the proper handling of crop protection products, and the collection and safe disposal of the empty containers.
ACCESSO aims to work with producers under extreme poverty and bring them over that line. The initial goal was 30,000 families – and we have already reached more than 34,000, which includes more than 108,000 people when family members are take into account.
Our work is aimed at providing economic opportunities for farmers; improving health and nutrition; fighting hunger and poverty; improving educational opportunities; and promoting responsible and sustainable environmental practices to preserve the land for future generations of farmers. Our objectives are very similar to those of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — and I’m proud to say that we are playing our part to help meet the SDGs in Honduras, as we have successfully make an impact in all of these areas.
Before they were trained, some farmers in the communities we serve reported losses of more than 70% of their crops in a single season to pests and disease. Some have told me they had lost their entire crops. This can have devastating consequences for any family. And especially in a family with children, in the short-term, it can mean loss of income and the inability to purchase food and other necessities in the marketplace. In the long run, it sometimes means children can no longer go to school since they are needed to help on the family farm. The impact of a single poor harvest lasts longer than a season – it could affect the future of every family member for several years.
To combat this threat, the ACCESO project trains farmers on best practices – from preparing the soil and rotating crops so they can break pest cycles, to other strategies they can try first ahead of chemical control. We also teach them how to recognize when to use pesticides and how to use them responsibly. Finally, we teach them to dispose of the plastic containers properly, so they are recycled, and not impacting the land, which their children will one day farm.
We’ve seen farmers move from extreme poverty and tenant farming situations to owning the land they farm and some farmers have even purchased trucks to bring their crops to market for sale. With improved yields and better environmental practices, these farmers are creating a much better future for their children. With plant science, they are feeding their community and preserving their land.
To learn more about our work in Honduras, and hear from some of the farmers who have benefited from the program, visit the website here.