Honduras Orocuina & Liure
$30,000 needed of $58,862
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)
Orocuina and Liure are in the arid south of Honduras and have some of the highest levels of poverty in the country. Families in this area live on one or two meals of tortillas a day. The water is polluted by animals since the water sources are unprotected, and trees are cut down for use as firewood. Farmers have small plots, which have been farmed intensively for many years and produce low yields since the land never gets a chance to rest. Shifting weather patterns have resulted in sustained droughts in this already arid region. When the rains do come, they are torrential and at different times than the usual season, creating flooding in the area and damaging crops. At times like these, farmers have to resort to eating their seed crops (beans and corn they saved for the next planting season).
The program supports families with improved seeds and storage, protecting watersheds with tree planting, and helping single women headed households with establishment of small food stores and animal husbandry in a “pass on the gift” model. In the previous phase of this program so many trees were planted that the river no longer goes dry in the summer, harvests increased, and many women were able to start small community stores that generate income.
Women Now Earning 5x More; Planting Trees Saves Watershed
There is much to celebrate as the program completes a second three-year phase for farmers and single mothers, including a significant increase in monthly income.
By starting small in-home grocery stores, single mothers are now earning five times more, with an average monthly income of 5,000 Lempiras (about $250). They can now provide for their children and are seen as role models in their community, giving hope to other women.
On the agricultural side of the program, environmentally destructive slash-and-burn agriculture is on the decline. Approximately 80% of farmers have stopped burning their fields, and more join them every year. These farmers have seen first hand how conservation agriculture improves their yields and how the loss of forests impacts the weather and their water supply.
Farmers are also diversifying their crops and diets beyond corn, to include fruits and more vegetables such as squash and yuca (a tuber). Some are growing cashews, sesame and passion fruit as cash crops. Diversification was an important factor in communities’ food security when insects destroyed the sorghum crop. Many community groups are saving a portion of their corn and other grains in seed banks to protect against future losses.
What’s more, a healthy forest now stands around a local watershed thanks to a community’s hard work and dedication in planting 13,000 trees. The river in this watershed is the only one that did not dry up during a recent drought.
Photo caption: Doña Ilce’s store fills a community need and improves her income
Honduras Orocuina and Liure Program is Led by Mennonite Central Committee and Local Partner CODESO
8 Communities, 255 Households, 1,740 Individuals