A farmer’s hope for his fields and family
By Evelyn Rupert. Photos and video by Skip Brown
November 20, 2017
Growing better in Honduras’ Dry Corridor
CHOLUTECA, Honduras — The rainy season has painted this area of southern Honduras a vibrant green, and farmers’ corn grows well above their heads.
But in a few months’ time, much of the landscape will be dried to a grim brown, and many families in this region will struggle to collect enough water.
The Dry Corridor stretches across the southern part of Central America, hitting its residents with extreme swings between rainy and dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change and weather phenomena El Niño and La Niña.
Juan Escobar has maintained a small cornfield and garden for more than 20 years in the largely rural municipality of Namasigue, outside of Choluteca city. He says he has been relatively lucky with his corn harvests – but every year brings a new challenge for his family.
“How are we going to collect water? We don’t have water, it’s scarce here. From January on, we have very little potable water to drink. Living is very costly – we have to buy water from where there are wells just to bathe.”
A project known by its Spanish acronym PROSASUR, part of a larger Dry Corridor Alliance, is stepping in to provide technical assistance, agricultural business plans and food security support to farmers like Juan to raise household income and improve nutrition.
The project is implemented by Creative Associates International in partnership with the Honduran government’s Strategic Investment Office, Invest-H. It is funded by the World Bank through the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program.
With help from the project, Juan built a water harvesting system that will allow him to collect and store rainwater to irrigate his crops throughout the dry season – something he’s never done before.
“This winter had us scared, we lost a lot of water. But now with the harvesting of water we will no longer have losses because we will now have enough water for that. That is what we want.”
PROSASUR assisted Juan in building a water harvesting and irrigation system similar to this one, but with a large bag for water instead of a tank.
Juan has also been introduced to new fertilizer techniques – the project helped him build a simple composting system to create biofuel, which will benefit his fields and gardens with low-cost, abundant and natural fertilizers.
With new seeds and better farming techniques, Juan’s harvests and garden will be heartier and more productive, allowing him to feed his family and produce more income from selling his produce.
“There is nothing that I like more than to plant in the earth, because my dad told me. ‘Look, if you keep planting you will have everything each day.’”
Passing knowledge to neighbors
Juan and his family were selected to be early beneficiaries of the project in part because of his position as a leader within his community.
The project team believes that as he learns and implements new techniques, he will pass that knowledge on to his neighbors so the community can benefit from stronger harvests and more income.
“The leadership that he already has, or the technology that we are going to give as a project, won’t be transferred to others through the project technicians, but through the farmers. And people understand much better farmer to farmer than if a technician teaches them something.”
Juan says that he’s hopeful about the help the project is bringing and the impact it will have on his harvest – and he’s willing to do his share of the work to make it successful.
“First thanks to God, who has offered to help us. That is what we’re looking for, because as a farmer there are so many things you lack.”