Young farmer Thelma Flores did not believe she could make a living from farming after nearly a decade of drought in Honduras. But then Flores learned techniques like minimum tillage and enriched huacas for keeping soil moist and fertile in dry regions. She learned this after working with the Asociación de Consejeros para una Agricultura Sostenible, Ecológica y Humana (COSECHA).
“We see why previous harvests were poor, but today we use [sustainable] techniques in our work and we have good harvests,” Flores said.
Flores’ family is one of more than 600 Honduran families directly benefiting from working with COSECHA, a Feed the Future-supported farmers’ association that is training Honduran communities – including young people – to grow and eat more nourishing food and see farming as a viable livelihood.
Thelma Flores. Through COSECHA, Honduran communities are growing their own food and consuming more nutritious diets. Image credit: COSECHA
Collaborating with COSECHA
The Inter-American Foundation (IAF), a Feed the Future partner agency, works closely with COSECHA. The farmers’ association works with a coalition of organizations in-country that focuses on sustainable agriculture. Through these efforts, COSECHA reached nearly 650 families to exchange best practices on farmer-to-farmer training and improve the dynamics of working in families.
That number includes nearly 3,000 community members from around the area. Women, youth and Indigenous individuals play pivotal roles in the program through farming, harvesting, and building a community network.
Farmers have learned and shared many techniques that have yielded more nutritious crops for their communities. Image credit: Inter-American Foundation
Farmers working with COSECHA have weathered many storms.
When Hurricanes Eta and Iota pummeled Honduras in November 2020, farmers working with COSECHA did not need emergency food assistance. Instead, they relied on their own food stores thanks to techniques they learned from COSECHA. This allowed the farmers to provide nutritious food to distressed neighbors and teach them how to protect their crops from extreme weather.
During the pandemic, 25 young people working in cities went back to their home communities because they lost their jobs in urban areas. They got inspired by COSECHA’s sustainable techniques to earn a living by farming and formed youth groups to share agricultural innovations with nearly 160 members.
Honduran youth working with COSECHA have grown to see farming as a viable livelihood. Image credit: Inter-American Foundation
To further COSECHA’s emphasis on community collaboration, farmers formed irrigation and marketing committees and production groups. The farmers also trained volunteer advisors. So far, they have implemented more than 250 workshops with different community members to share information and glean knowledge from other Hondurans.
Since working with COSECHA, Flores thinks differently about nutrition: “We’ve learned how to have a balanced plate where there are proteins, vitamins, [and] carbohydrates.” She said she feels more empowered by the new farming techniques she’s learned from the group.
“Life for me and my family has changed, because before we didn’t work the plot, but now moving forward we’re all working together and seeing the results it gives us,” Flores said.
This story was originally published in conjunction with our October 2021 newsletter focusing on the theme of improving nutrition. The other stories we highlighted include: