Modern Agriculture for Food Safety and Sustainable Development
María López is a pea and avocado farmer from San Miguel Ixtahuacán, San Marcos. Like every mother, she dreams about providing a better future to her two daughters. María’s leadership and innovation are noteworthy skills that have led her to invest and work hard in agriculture as the route to prosperity for her and her family.
“PRO-INNOVA [Feed the Future Guatemala Innovative Solutions for Agricultural Value Chains Project] has given me technical assistance for the past three years. I didn’t know how to properly grow peas, but now I know that using agricultural technology can improve my crops and I can obtain healthier products for my family and customers. The project has also helped me diversify my crops; I now grow avocados, which have become another source of income for my family, ” María said.
Through PRO-INNOVA’s replicable and sustainable models of development, over 26,000 farmers have increased their productivity, which has generated more income and improved their families’ quality of life by allowing families in the Western Highlands to invest their earnings in nutrition, household, hygiene and health.
Promoting household improvements, such as cement floors, hand washing stations with soap and water, hygiene practices and disposal, and separation of domestic and farm animals from humans, reduces the risk of health problems, especially for small children.
“With the money I get from my crops, I’m improving my daughters’ quality of life. The first thing I did was to buy my house, but it had a dirt floor, which I learned could affect my daughter’s health and nutrition. To prevent this, I got myself a bank credit, and I cemented my house’s floor. I’m more calm now, and I don’t need to worry about my daughters getting sick. They can freely play on the floor, since we can keep it clean now,” María shared.
Combined with household improvements, PRO-INNOVA trains women to properly manage, prepare and store food to reduce the risk of stomach infections and other commonly transmitted diseases that affect their health. One of the most successful interventions of the project is experiential learning. A hands-on approach has helped women learn new recipes with local ingredients, and as a result, over 6,000 families have improved their nutrition.
María stated, “I’ve also learned how to prepare more nutritious meals for my daughters, like vegetables with chicken, meat, herbs with eggs, and vegetables with eggs. I can tell they like it more. Another improvement I made is that I bought a water filter, so now I can always have fresh water and don’t have to use firewood to get boiled water.”
PRO-INNOVA promotes the integral development of farmers like María and their families to generate local prosperity. Empowering women with farming and nutrition skills and knowledge promotes stronger and prosperous communities. These actions generate local opportunities and strengthen farmers’ roots in their communities to provide an attractive alternative to migration.
“I’ve seen my daughters grow, they are stronger and healthier. This is what motivates me to keep going, learning and working hard,” said María.
By the end of 2022, PRO-INNOVA will have benefited over 36,500 farmers and their families with improved productivity, increased income, and higher quality of life.