Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in the Americas. Almost 60 per cent of Guatemalans live on less than $2 a day and the country has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition among children in Latin America.
There are many reasons for this high level of poverty. Guatemala has one of the greatest degrees of inequality in the world. A primary factor is that 88% of those who make their livelihoods from agriculture work own only 16% of the arable land.
The majority of rural families (campesinos) currently subsist by working their very small plots of marginal land and harvesting coffee and sugar on the large, export-oriented plantations.
In Guatemala the dry season is called the time of death. For six months of the year – from November to April – there is no rain, and therefore little cultivation, few crops and scarce food.
The majority of subsistence farmers:
- lack the opportunity to have an integrated horticultural system formaintaining year long food and plant production such as seeds and organic inputs;
- lack the technology of an efficient irrigation system for drought or dry season cultivation to make their lands moreproductive.
As a result, in the absence of a profound land reform, the majority of campesinos remain very poor and live from hand to mouth with little left over for improving the quality of their lives.
A Solution: An Holistic Approach to Family Food Security
Project Harvest integrates four core elements to improve individual family nutrition and help fight the cycle of poverty:
- Participation and Empowerment: The planning and implementation of the project by community members is essential. Emphasis is placed on theinvolvement of women given their crucial role in producing and preparing food.
- Biodiversity and Ecological Agricultural Practices: The promotion ofcrop diversity in family gardens can provide food throughout an extended growing season as different crops mature.Emphasis is placed on organictechniques such as the use of manure and composting to build healthy soil andavoiding the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc.
- Nutritional Education: Nutritional education is focused on women’s central role in improving overall family nutrition.
- Diversifying Livelihoods: The support of different opportunities for campesino families to earn cash income is important because it provides them with options to buy food they don’t already grow or invest in future production.
Your Support Is Needed
Be a part of Project Harvest and help plant the seeds of hope for Guatemalan Campesino families!
Your donation does make a difference.