$19,948 needed of $60,000
The Asociacion Programa Integral de Desarrollo Cristiano Petén (APIDEC) works in community development with indigenous rural communities located in the region of Petén in northern Guatemala. During the last seven years they have implemented a sustainable agriculture program focused on providing training to small-scale farmers in soil conservation, crop diversification, poultry raising and post-harvest practices as part of the Guatemala Four Departments program.
The current phase of the program is scaling-up the activities developed in the previous program by reaching new participants in the five communities that have already been part of the program, as well as new participants in three additional communities. To scale up the sustainable agriculture program, the organization is integrating it into the Maternal and Newborn Child Health program and the Village Savings and Loans Association program, focusing on women, mothers and youth. The migration of men and the variations of the climate in the region has increased the vulnerability of households that are sustained by single women or mothers.
The program’s goal is to empower women and youth by training them in sustainable agriculture practices that increase yields and diversify produce to improve food security, as well as market access to increase income. APIDEC is also introducing the promotion of beekeeping as a new practice with some of the most successful participants of the previous programs.
Helping People Stay Put… With Chickens
People everywhere love their homes, families and communities, and generally choose to stay put, if they can, rather than take the huge risk of leaving to look for work. Local partner APIDEC’s goal in villages threatened by migration is to help families improve their food security and finances. They offer training in sustainable agriculture and diversifying farms so there’s always something to eat or sell.
One of the activities that attracts the most attention is poultry farming. Several communities have established group “hatcheries” whose members contribute time and resources to build and operate a poultry house and take turns caring for the birds. The objective is to sell the meat at the end of each cycle, share some meat and proceeds and hold back enough funds to establish a new hatchery elsewhere. After several cycles many participants feel they have enough experience to try their hand at raising chickens at home.
One of those who branched out is Carmen, who admits that she knew nothing about the care and feeding of chickens before she joined a hatchery group. But after the training, the constant supervision and support by APIDEC, and the experience in community breeding, she felt ready. She has established her own broiler production, and also raises some laying hens. She says the whole family’s health has improved with the regular inclusion of chicken and eggs in their meals, along with the vegetables she grows in her garden. Her first sales were “exciting,” as she put it, but APIDEC was with her every step of the way. Carmen is a visionary and has become a leader who motivates others to get involved.
When families can grow or buy sufficient nutritious food, pay for schooling and cover other household needs, it reinforces community cohesion. Without such opportunities, men and boys often see no option but to search for work elsewhere, leaving the women and children behind to fend as best they can. The men’s intentions are to send money back home and return eventually, but migration can bring serious consequences. Paying someone to take them to other countries can incur enormous debt. There is a real danger of falling ill or dying on the journey, and failure to find work or any number of other hazards can cause the men to abandon their families entirely. Farming and having a side business such as raising chickens brings in income and contributes to making it possible to thrive at home.
Guatemala Sayaxché Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner APIDEC