Counterpart’s activity through the USDA-funded Food for Progress program led to farmers’ enhanced knowledge and their use of innovative techniques that increased productivity tenfold.
The program offers in-kind grants to improve productivity and increase the income of farmers in the western part of the country. In June 2022, Counterpart awarded a grant to the Learning Center for Rural Development located in Nebaj, in Quiché, to support the center’s project on improving the production and commercialization of vegetable seedlings.
The head of the Learning Center for Rural Development, Andrés de León, noted that in 2020 they had begun testing the production of tomato and chili pepper seedlings, distributed only to the members of their group. The production was carried out in an artisanal greenhouse built by the group. With knowledge gained from Counterpart’s diploma course on vegetables, they submitted a proposal for an in-kind grant to renovate a greenhouse and produce quality seedlings.
In Quiché, seedlings and vegetable starters are in great demand. Starting vegetables from seedlings has a higher success rate than directly sowing seeds in soil. This has motivated the group to use new production methods to increase production. The grant made it possible to increase production from 2,000 to 22,144 seedlings per growing cycle. This enabled the group to diversify the varieties of seedlings they grow, expanding to include cultivation of cauliflower, broccoli, onion, and cabbage.
Extension agents from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food provided technical assistance to accompany the implementation of the grant.
The coupling of assistance with a grant had two benefits: technical strengthening and the development of administrative and financial procedures, such as how to carry out transparent processes in production and marketing. As a result of this two-dimensional support, the center has sold 22,144 seedlings at the municipal level for a total value of $990. Some of this income will be used for the purchase of supplies and materials to continue improving production, and the rest will be used to support the basic needs of group members. At the community level, this grant made it possible to have local production of seedlings, guaranteeing supply and shortening the distance and time needed to access this essential agricultural input. This in turn lead to the increase of horticultural production on a commercial scale as well as at a local level through family gardens, which help short-term food availability.
Referring to the impact of the project, León said, “The grant has been a great support for our group and community. It has allowed us to improve our production techniques and increase the number of seedlings we sell throughout the municipality, and it has generated income that we use for continued production and for the basic needs of our families.”
This story is one example of how Counterpart, together with strategic partners like Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, enhances the knowledge and strengthens the technical skills of families in western Guatemala so farmers can generate more income and improve their livelihoods.
Click here to read more about the Food for Progress program.