Honduras: Women Taking the Lead in Community Development
Part 1 of 2, July 2017
This month’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative story comes from Honduras, where Seed Programs International partner, FIPAH (Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers), is working with local farmer groups to lay a foundation for self-sustainability through community-led education and local seed production. Farmers are organized into field schools (ECAs) that train community-led farmer research teams (CIALs) over five regions in Honduras.
The CIALs currently have 56 participants — 30 women and 26 men from 21 communities over five regions. As with many of our partners, women are taking the lead in community development and focusing on building resilience and ensuring everyone’s long-term sustainability! To highlight some of their work, we’ll be featuring two CIAL women from the region of Jesus de Otoro over the next two months.
Dona Bertulia is from the community of Las Pilas in the municipality of Sulaco. She is a member of a network of women working with her municipality in vegetable production and other activities. Her small huerto (orchard) is right beside her house on the road that runs through the centre of Las Pilas. Neighbors can peer over her fence to see what she is growing. She has a wide range of vegetables and herbs, which she waters with simple drip irrigation.
As a long time seed saver, she was selected by FIPAH for seed saving training in tomato and chile. Given the difficulties that farmers face working with these two species, she was eager to participate. She was glad to learn new information about plant diseases and pests, how to select plants that could be used to save seed, and some farming “best practices” for these particular plants.
During the training, Dona Bertulia learned about how to save seed that could be sold, an idea that was new to her. There are a lot of women in Las Pilas interested in growing vegetables, but they don’t have access to good seed. Although she’s sold vegetables to her neighbors, she hadn’t considered also selling seed for her neighbors to grow their own vegetables. Excited, she immediately adopted the idea.
With her new-found knowledge, she has managed to keep the whitefly pest from infecting her tomatoes and chiles, and she is planning on selling seed to neighbours. The seed will be sold in small paper packets that have been produced at FIPAH’s Yorito office. Producing seed not only opens the door for women to earn an income, but importantly, it can be done from home. Women, most with children and older relatives to care for, can engage in saving seed without leaving their homes. And the neighbours will benefit from having access to seed which they can use in their own huertos to produce healthy food to nourish their families.
Dona Bertulia is only one woman who is engaged in vital work that will ensure that her community will have access to quality seed for generations to come. Next month, we’ll introduce Ana Josefina, one of 14 women from the region of Jesus de Otoro who participated in training for vegetable seed selection and production.
A typical woman in Liberia has a lot of work on her plate in addition to the work of managing her household. And to be clear, this is work, often unpaid and unacknowledged — gathering firewood, fetching water, cooking, hand washing clothes, and taking care of family members. Household work can be a huge burden that limits a woman’s ability to take on paid employment or broaden her skills through training and education.
Women Passing It On
This month’s program highlight brings us back to Liberia, where SPI partner REAP (the Restoration of Educational Advancement Program) is providing women with access to resources and education.
One way REAP facilitates empowerment for young girls and other students is by integrating school gardens and agriculture training into primary school curriculums. More than 30% of students in the schools return to rural areas to farm for a living after graduation.
Did you know that women farmers produce more than half the developing world’s food, yet own less than 2% of land?
Did you know that if women had the same access to quality seeds, tools, and knowledge as men, the increased agricultural output in 34 developing countries would lead to 150 million fewer hungry people (UN)?
Women’s Empowerment Initiative- Graduating from Maize to Vegetables
Esther is a farmer from Makongo village and a member of the Makongo Farmers Network in south-central Kenya, where she owns ½ acre of land. She was forced to relocate from Eldoret in western Kenya due to political instability during the 2007-2008 Kenyan Crisis , which displaced about 600,000 people. A single mother, today she supports eight children, five of whom are in school.
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