Climate-smart agriculture program helps Guatemalan farmers resist drought

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Guatemala City, May 4, 2017 - A yearlong food security and disaster risk reduction project in Guatemala ends today with successful results. The "Yo Me Adapto" (I adapt) program, funded by the U.S. Agency for Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) and implemented by PADF, helped vulnerable communities in the municipalities of Sansare and Sanarate in El Progreso Department. Through training offered to farmers in the region, PADF encouraged the use of new, climate-smart farming techniques. The initiative helped farmers maximize crop yields and mitigate food insecurity in Guatemala in a sustainable way.

PADF worked with farmers affected by the worst drought in Guatemala in decades. By sharing methods to improve crop productivity in affected areas, PADF managed to improve the lives of approximately 9,000 farmers and their families facing severe food insecurity. PADF worked with with the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG) to expand and strengthen the existing network of Rural Development Learning Centers (CADER), managed by the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA).

Throughout the project, PADF established 20 new CADERs and strengthened the capacity of an additional 40 centers. An average of 25 families participated in the agricultural activities and training of these spaces. A demonstration farm was established in Sanarate where agricultural techniques and crops in drought-prone areas were analyzed. PADF shared these best practices and technologies with the families that participated in the CADER. Through the "Yo Me Adapto" program, PADF promoted the use of greenhouses, soil conservation techniques, efficient irrigation systems and climate monitoring systems to protect crops against the inclement weather, invasive species, and to achieve better crop production. These techniques were transmitted to more than 1,500 families.

"The best thing we have learned is to produce our own food, for the benefit of our children," says Elsa Maritza Ruano Morales of CADER "Los Aritos" in Sansare. "In this way we prevent diseases caused by a poor diet. In addition, we now have farming methods that are good for the environment, so that we can maintain our crops, prepare for drought and survive. "

During the program, PADF and partners held workshops with 60 CADER members and provided technical assistance for the development of Community Action Plans. Through these plans, farmers were able to identify and understand threats to their food security, as well as strategies to improve food production, support income generation, and mitigate and overcome barriers to food security. To achieve this, PADF provided farmers with the tools necessary to put everything they learned into practice.

The Foundation was able to provide the project beneficiaries with resources to plan and implement their action plans, through donations that included irrigation systems, greenhouses and pumping equipment. Thanks to these efforts, members of both new and existing CADERs had the opportunity to learn how to determine the best crop varieties to plant using the best equipment. They also received bean, corn and vegetable seeds, which will provide them with better food during the dry season.

“Thanks to the training we’ve learned how to diversify our crops and sell them in the local market,” says Melvin Morales, a farmer in the village of San Rafael, Sanarate Department. “Increasing our incomes will give us the chance to withstand the drought, and have food year-round.”

According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Guatemala has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

About PADF
The Pan American Development Foundation, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, brings together many stakeholders to improve livelihoods, empower communities, strengthen civil society, support human rights, protect the environment and respond to natural disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean. Established by the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1962, PADF has worked in every country in the region.

About USAID
This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The U.S. Agency for International Development administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.

*The contents are the responsibility of PADF and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.