• Realizing the Dream: September’s Bread for the Preacher

    Did you know that each month the church relations department at Bread for the World produces a resource specifically for pastors? Whether you are searching for inspiration for a sermon you’re writing, or just a lectionary enthusiast, Bread for the Preacher is for you. After reading this introduction, explore this month’s readings on the Bread for the Preacher web page, where you can also sign up to have the resource emailed to you each month. By Rev. Gary Cook A…

  • Indian Farmers Facing Affliction

    Suicide can be defined as the act of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally by an individual driven to despair out of a complex web of motivations. It is estimated that more than a quarter of a million of Indian farmers have committed suicide in the last 16 years. Even while this figure is […]

    The post Indian Farmers Facing Affliction appeared first on The Borgen Project.

  • Home Gardens: Alleviating Hunger in Developing Countries

    Homestead gardening in developing countries is now being viewed as a key to alleviating hunger and providing a source of nutrition for millions of people in developing countries. For low-income families, the quantity of food they consume must also be supplemented by adequate nutrition; research conducted by the Lancet earlier this year concluded that malnutrition […]

    The post Home Gardens: Alleviating Hunger in Developing Countries appeared first on The Borgen Project.

  • Irrigation Could End Poverty

    By now, it is a well known fact that clean water is necessary for drinking and hygiene. About 1.1 billion people go without clean water every day and must rely on polluted or infected supplies to survive. Even more than that go without basic sanitation. But, water is not just for human consumption and cleanliness. […]

    The post Irrigation Could End Poverty appeared first on The Borgen Project.

  • Essay 4: Farmers: The Key to Ending Global Hunger

    The fourth essay in the Bread for the World series, called Development Works, is all about farmers solving problems. 

  • Reality Checks for High Level Panels

    Overcoming the dehumanization produced by a system of consumption, and reinvigorating love in every human being’s heart. Union and harmonious interaction in diversity are the…

Will India’s Second Green Revolution Be Organic?

India's organic revolution In northeastern India, nestled between Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and West Bengal, lies Sikkim. Sikkim is an Indian state that has been making news since 2016 when it became the world’s first fully organic state. Sikkim won the prestigious U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s Future Policy Gold Award, known as the “Oscar for best policies,” which honors achievements made towards ending world hunger. “An organic world is definitely achievable,” explained Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar at the awards. Could India’s Second Green Revolution be organic?

The First Green Revolution

Along with many other developing countries, India overhauled its agricultural systems in the 1960s and replaced them with a western industrial model that relied on expensive technology, GMOs and agri-chemicals. By narrowing the crop variety to mainly corn, wheat and rice, Asian countries doubled their grain yield and cut poverty in half. As time has passed, however, the Green Revolution proved to be problematic for many developing countries. Though it has spurred incredible grain production and increased income in rural communities, it has also polluted the environment, depleted the water table and created economic disparity.

Because genetically modified wheat and rice require more water than their organic counterparts, Indian farmers have been draining the groundwater supply, causing the water table to drop approximately three feet each year. Intensive farming has also exhausted the soil, depleting it of nitrogen, phosphorous and iron. Farmers now use three times the amount of fertilizer that they used to for the same crop yield. Many farmers find themselves in debt because they cannot keep up with the costs of new water pumps, patented seeds and fertilizer. This is why states like Sikkim are calling for an organic Second Green Revolution.

The Sikkim Revolution

Sikkim has reversed the industrial farming policies of the Green Revolution at a time when governments and philanthropists are calling for a Second Green Revolution. Chief Minister Kumars believes that countries should not “carry out any kind of development work and business at the cost of the environment.” Still, there has been much debate about what a Second Green Revolution should look like. Should countries increase reliance on genetically engineered crops and pesticides or move towards more sustainable but lower-yield organic practices?

The transition to organic farming in Sikkim has helped 66,000 families and increased rural development and sustainable tourism. A movement to invest in sustainable farming practices is growing around the world, leading institutions like the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to invest in organic farming. IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo has stated that reversing conventional farming practices can fight food insecurity while improving nutrition and alleviating poverty. Though organic farming systems produce 10 to 20 percent less than conventional systems, they regenerate the soil and create fewer environmental costs.

An Unconventional Compromise

With the world poised to reach a population of more than nine billion by 2050, there is debate as to whether organic agriculture can feed the whole world. Industrial technologies and pest-resistant strains of rice and wheat have undoubtedly helped feed a rising population and reduce global poverty over the last 50 years. A recent meta-analysis of 66 studies comparing conventional and organic agriculture found that a Second Green Revolution needs the best of both systems. Though organic farming greatly increases the productivity of soil, making it more resilient to climate change, genetically modified crops could also play an important role in certain areas since they are designed to endure droughts and saltwater intrusion from rising sea levels.

At the end of the day, conventional or organic, there is actually plenty of food to go around. Global agriculture produces 22 trillion calories every year. If food were distributed equally and not wasted, every person on the planet could consume 3,000 calories a day. Though this may never be the case, organic states like Sikkim are choosing to make their calories count, by making them pesticide free and environmentally friendly. Whether India’s Second Green Revolution will be organic is still unsure, but Sikkim is setting a powerful precedent, and other states and countries are following suit.

Kate McIntosh

Photo: Flickr

The post Will India’s Second Green Revolution Be Organic? appeared first on The Borgen Project.

How PanalFresh Helps the Agriculture Industry in Bolivia

Agriculture Industry in Bolivia
Since Bolivia gained independence from Spanish rule in 1825, the country has gone through many violent coups leading to drastic shifts in political power and long-term effects on economic stability. In 1993, Bolivia elected Gonzolo Sanchez de Lozada and by 1996, he made substantial changes to the agriculture industry in Bolivia that have lingering effects to this day.

Inequality in Bolivia’s Agricultural Sector

Lozada’s Law of Agricultural Reform Services promoted a liberalization of trade in the agricultural sector and bolstered trade activities centered around exports. One negative, likely unintended, consequence of the increased privatization was the fact that small-scale farmers were now forced to compete with much larger companies that could provide extremely cheap imports. This crippled the ability of rural smallholder farmers to increase productivity and income.

It is clear today that the agriculture industry in Bolivia is valuable as it accounts for close to 14 percent of the country’s total GDP and employs close to 30 percent of the entire workforce. Unfortunately, with 57 percent of the rural population living below the poverty line, the potential for job creation and economic growth is not coming to fruition.

Tech Startups, Global Poverty and PanalFresh

It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to say that tech start-ups are capable of tackling the toughest problems facing the world today. Viome seeks to revolutionize users’ knowledge of nutrition to combat diseases, while The Ocean Cleanup is taking on the colossal task of ridding the world’s oceans of plastic waste. Meanwhile, Simprints is providing poverty-stricken people a reliable way to provide personal identification in order to receive life-saving services, just to name a few.

In a report by UNICEF, rural poverty in Bolivia is due to the “lack of infrastructure and access to markets.” A startup called PanalFresh recognized this shortcoming and sought to bridge the gap.

PanalFresh provides next-morning delivery of fruits, vegetables and other grocery items through an online store available to customers in the cities Santa Cruz and Cochabamba. The truly unique and impactful part of PanalFresh’s business model is that all of the produce in the store comes from small-scale farmers in rural Bolivia. On top of providing farmers with an effective and far-reaching marketplace for their harvests, PanalFresh consults farmers on what to plant in order to meet with demands.

PanalFresh’s co-Founder, Andrea Puente, dedicates her time to helping farmers know what to grow and giving them a marketplace so they can be successful. Her platform claims to yield 10-15 percent better prices on the same crops and provides services to over 400 farmers. By reconnecting the rural farmers of Bolivia to the more affluent urban customers, Puente is sure to increase the long-term financial stability of hard-working farmers who struggle with poverty day in and out.

– John Chapman
Photo: Flickr

The post How PanalFresh Helps the Agriculture Industry in Bolivia appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria

sustainable agriculture in NigeriaThe country of Nigeria is located on the Gulf of Guinea on the western side of Africa. Two major rivers run through the country. The Benue River is located on the east and it flows into the western river, the Niger River. With two large rivers flowing through their sub-Sharan climate, one might presume that agriculture would be a major source of income for the country. However, this is yet not the case.

Agriculture in Nigeria

Agriculture and, more recently, sustainable agriculture in Nigeria is an industry that employs most of the country’s population. The number of people employed in this sector is around 70 percent. However, it only makes up 22 percent of the nation’s GDP. This is indicated mostly through Nigeria’s unemployment rate that sits at 70 percent. Things may change soon. Various initiatives, speeches, articles and organizations in Nigeria all point to a bright future for sustainable agriculture in Nigeria and especially the future for the younger generations working for it.

Ade Adefeko’s Speech

In 2018, Ade Adefeko gave a speech to the Franco-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an economic body set-up to aid business relations between ex-French colonies and France. Adefeko, who is currently Head of Corporate and Government Relations at OLAM Nigeria, outlined many important factors that hinder the growth of sustainable agriculture in Nigeria. He pointed especially to a lack of government funding. The funding has lowered down to just 1 percent of the total budget in 2018 from previously recorded 5 percent in 2008.

He also blames the lack of mechanization and techniques. Techniques are especially important for sustainable agriculture. Access to irrigation system is very hard for small farmers in Nigeria. This is rather odd having in mind that there is plenty of water from Nigeria’s rivers. To simplify his solution for the problem in two parts, Ade Adefeko would like to see a streamlined approach of land and water distribution from the government.

OLAM’s Role in Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria

He would also like to see his employer OLAM, an international agricultural organization that supports sustainable agriculture in Nigeria and all around the globe, take even more active role in aiding Nigeria’s government and people. He would like to see OLAM continue to help the government store any excess crop yield. The other part of his suggestion is educating farmers so that they are more productive and can sell their crops more efficiently. Ade Adefeko and OLAM are not the only ones who see education of the population as the best way to understand the importance of sustainable agriculture in Nigeria and to provide solutions for this issue.

YISA and its Mission

The Youth Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (YISA) Nigeria is taking a very active role in helping men, women, children and senior citizens to become better acquainted with sustainable agriculture. YISA’s mission is to take sustainable agriculture to the next step and to make it profitable. The organization’s goal is to make students of agriculture in Nigeria business savvy. They also want to rebrand agriculture and make it a popular and productive vocation. YISA runs five major programs that push this agenda in Nigeria. These programmes are designed to educate, corrects, encourage, inspire and motivate young people.

The push for sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria may eventually find itself at the precipice of an important decision. Should the people use the new found power for the country, keeping it home and small, or do they give it completely to large agriculture firms? Both of these choices have positives and negatives. The important thing is that sustainable agriculture in Nigeria can become so successful that it can make that choice for itself one day.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

The post Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria

sustainable agriculture in NigeriaThe country of Nigeria is located on the Gulf of Guinea on the western side of Africa. Two major rivers run through the country. The Benue River is located on the east and it flows into the western river, the Niger River. With two large rivers flowing through their sub-Sharan climate, one might presume that agriculture would be a major source of income for the country. However, this is yet not the case.

Agriculture in Nigeria

Agriculture and, more recently, sustainable agriculture in Nigeria is an industry that employs most of the country’s population. The number of people employed in this sector is around 70 percent. However, it only makes up 22 percent of the nation’s GDP. This is indicated mostly through Nigeria’s unemployment rate that sits at 70 percent. Things may change soon. Various initiatives, speeches, articles and organizations in Nigeria all point to a bright future for sustainable agriculture in Nigeria and especially the future for the younger generations working for it.

Ade Adefeko’s Speech

In 2018, Ade Adefeko gave a speech to the Franco-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an economic body set-up to aid business relations between ex-French colonies and France. Adefeko, who is currently Head of Corporate and Government Relations at OLAM Nigeria, outlined many important factors that hinder the growth of sustainable agriculture in Nigeria. He pointed especially to a lack of government funding. The funding has lowered down to just 1 percent of the total budget in 2018 from previously recorded 5 percent in 2008.

He also blames the lack of mechanization and techniques. Techniques are especially important for sustainable agriculture. Access to irrigation system is very hard for small farmers in Nigeria. This is rather odd having in mind that there is plenty of water from Nigeria’s rivers. To simplify his solution for the problem in two parts, Ade Adefeko would like to see a streamlined approach of land and water distribution from the government.

OLAM’s Role in Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria

He would also like to see his employer OLAM, an international agricultural organization that supports sustainable agriculture in Nigeria and all around the globe, take even more active role in aiding Nigeria’s government and people. He would like to see OLAM continue to help the government store any excess crop yield. The other part of his suggestion is educating farmers so that they are more productive and can sell their crops more efficiently. Ade Adefeko and OLAM are not the only ones who see education of the population as the best way to understand the importance of sustainable agriculture in Nigeria and to provide solutions for this issue.

YISA and its Mission

The Youth Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (YISA) Nigeria is taking a very active role in helping men, women, children and senior citizens to become better acquainted with sustainable agriculture. YISA’s mission is to take sustainable agriculture to the next step and to make it profitable. The organization’s goal is to make students of agriculture in Nigeria business savvy. They also want to rebrand agriculture and make it a popular and productive vocation. YISA runs five major programs that push this agenda in Nigeria. These programmes are designed to educate, corrects, encourage, inspire and motivate young people.

The push for sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria may eventually find itself at the precipice of an important decision. Should the people use the new found power for the country, keeping it home and small, or do they give it completely to large agriculture firms? Both of these choices have positives and negatives. The important thing is that sustainable agriculture in Nigeria can become so successful that it can make that choice for itself one day.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

The post Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Sustainable Agriculture in Senegal

agriculture in SenegalThe story of sustainable agriculture in Senegal is one of success that should be used as a guide for other countries. Between 1960 and the early 1980s, Senegal used monocropping, a dangerous practice where only one crop is grown year after year, leaching more and more nutrients from the ground. This eventually left the soil void of essential nutrients. When the area was hit by drought in the early 1980s, the land was unable to cope, and the country suffered from food shortages. However, over the last 20 years, Senegal has been using sustainable agriculture to bring back fertility to the soil.

In 1989, the United States government began working with Rodale International to come up with a plan to restore the soil. The plan was to use crop rotation. Every three years, one of four different plants would be sown in the soil. Each plant would only take certain nutrients from the ground and replace others. One of these plants was peanuts, the plant that caused the problem in the first place, and the second was millet. Both are now the main agricultural exports of Senegal. The other two crops in rotation are cowpeas and cassava.

The International Production and Pest Management Program

The United States and international companies are not the only organizations helping improve sustainable agriculture in Senegal. Senegal has been part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) IPPM program since 2001. The IPPM (Integrated Production and Pest Management Program) is dedicated to responsible pest control practices. The program touches on many points to control pests; however, its most important lesson is the responsible use of pesticides.

Pesticides remain a continuous problem in Senegal and most of the world due to their overuse. Pesticides stay in the water table, contaminating drinking water. They also hurt the soil since the chemicals build up over time and stay on the crops. When consumed pesticides are harmful to humans and animals. This is not to say that they are not sometimes necessary, but the IPPM suggests a less-is-more approach.

Syngenta

Private foundations are also doing their part. Syngenta, a Swiss-based based agricultural firm, has a foundation called the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. The foundation works with public and private sector partners in order to finance innovations in sustainable agriculture. They also work with the World Bank, USAID and both the Swiss and Australian governments.

Since 2014, Syngenta has been promoting sustainable agriculture in Senegal’s rice production. In 2015, the organization began helping farmers gain access to better-mechanized equipment to facilitate rice cultivation in the Senegal River Valley. The overall approach of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture is to work with the entire system. The work with NGO’s and governments to help small farmers become more productive has helped to increase the economic benefit of sustainable farming practices. It also helps the farmers better feed themselves and their families.

Improving the Economy Through Sustainable Agriculture

The soil is becoming productive again, and farmers are gaining access to better techniques and equipment. However, the fight is not over. Senegal suffers from an unemployment rate of 47 percent. In 2017, the agricultural industry employed 77 percent of the population in Senegal, an estimated 6.9 million people. However, the agriculture industry only makes up only about 17 percent of the of the country’s GDP. The next step to better economic stability will be to tackle these issues. Hopefully, like its soil, the Senegalese economy will now rejuvenate and grow for all.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

The post Sustainable Agriculture in Senegal appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Sustainable Agriculture in Senegal

agriculture in SenegalThe story of sustainable agriculture in Senegal is one of success that should be used as a guide for other countries. Between 1960 and the early 1980s, Senegal used monocropping, a dangerous practice where only one crop is grown year after year, leaching more and more nutrients from the ground. This eventually left the soil void of essential nutrients. When the area was hit by drought in the early 1980s, the land was unable to cope, and the country suffered from food shortages. However, over the last 20 years, Senegal has been using sustainable agriculture to bring back fertility to the soil.

In 1989, the United States government began working with Rodale International to come up with a plan to restore the soil. The plan was to use crop rotation. Every three years, one of four different plants would be sown in the soil. Each plant would only take certain nutrients from the ground and replace others. One of these plants was peanuts, the plant that caused the problem in the first place, and the second was millet. Both are now the main agricultural exports of Senegal. The other two crops in rotation are cowpeas and cassava.

The International Production and Pest Management Program

The United States and international companies are not the only organizations helping improve sustainable agriculture in Senegal. Senegal has been part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) IPPM program since 2001. The IPPM (Integrated Production and Pest Management Program) is dedicated to responsible pest control practices. The program touches on many points to control pests; however, its most important lesson is the responsible use of pesticides.

Pesticides remain a continuous problem in Senegal and most of the world due to their overuse. Pesticides stay in the water table, contaminating drinking water. They also hurt the soil since the chemicals build up over time and stay on the crops. When consumed pesticides are harmful to humans and animals. This is not to say that they are not sometimes necessary, but the IPPM suggests a less-is-more approach.

Syngenta

Private foundations are also doing their part. Syngenta, a Swiss-based based agricultural firm, has a foundation called the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. The foundation works with public and private sector partners in order to finance innovations in sustainable agriculture. They also work with the World Bank, USAID and both the Swiss and Australian governments.

Since 2014, Syngenta has been promoting sustainable agriculture in Senegal’s rice production. In 2015, the organization began helping farmers gain access to better-mechanized equipment to facilitate rice cultivation in the Senegal River Valley. The overall approach of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture is to work with the entire system. The work with NGO’s and governments to help small farmers become more productive has helped to increase the economic benefit of sustainable farming practices. It also helps the farmers better feed themselves and their families.

Improving the Economy Through Sustainable Agriculture

The soil is becoming productive again, and farmers are gaining access to better techniques and equipment. However, the fight is not over. Senegal suffers from an unemployment rate of 47 percent. In 2017, the agricultural industry employed 77 percent of the population in Senegal, an estimated 6.9 million people. However, the agriculture industry only makes up only about 17 percent of the of the country’s GDP. The next step to better economic stability will be to tackle these issues. Hopefully, like its soil, the Senegalese economy will now rejuvenate and grow for all.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

The post Sustainable Agriculture in Senegal appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Changes in Transcontinental Trade in Africa

Changes in Transcontinental Trade Look to Lift African Economies

Despite being home to many rapidly growing economies and an abundance of essential natural resources, Africa also contains numerous countries with some of the highest poverty and food insecurity rates in the world. However, new legislation and foreign support hope to ease the flow of domestic trade in Africa, allowing broader access to necessities and helping to build a strong continental economy.

The High Cost of Shipping

While Africa regularly exports goods to places such as the U.S. and Europe, only 13 percent of traded goods remain in Africa. Underdeveloped road and highway systems between neighboring countries translate to high costs in transcontinental shipments, ultimately raising the cost of transported goods to the point of unaffordability for most impoverished Africans.

For example, while the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that East Africa produces enough food to support everyone living in the region, the high cost of transportation has halted trade in the area, resulting in food insecurity for 27 percent of the people living on the continent. However, recent legislative changes and foreign support signal that trade in Africa is beginning to take on a new shape that allows for transcontinental trade and a collective African economy.

The Transcontinental Trade in Africa

The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), which was proposed at a meeting of the African Union in 2012, set forth goals of enhancing trade among the eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs), made up of geographic subdivisions with interconnected economies, and creating a continental trading system that would encourage foreign investment and a competitive marketplace.

While the CFTA has yet to be fully implemented, ongoing discussions, including the December 2017 meeting in Niger of 54 countries in Africa, emphasize that an economic overhaul of this magnitude is a long-term goal with results that will not be immediately apparent despite the progress being made.

In addition to internal policy changes by African governmental leaders, foreign investors seeking to take early advantage of the promising African markets have expedited growth with contributions to urban development. In Ethiopia alone, Chinese investors funded the construction of the African Union’s headquarters in the capital city of Addis Ababa in the amount of $100 million. Road and highway systems, an airport and various energy and rail transportation programs are underway with the intent of modernizing Africa’s infrastructure and turning its economy into a thriving market with a high return rate.

Improving Agriculture and Trade

USAID has been working to improve trade in Africa through the creation of Trade and Investment hubs. Furthermore, through their Feed the Future initiative, USAID is working to educate various African countries on how to improve agricultural production and how to create trading systems that both improve the economy in the trading region’s while giving others access to goods not ordinarily available in their own region.

To complement the interests from investors abroad, foreign government organizations have worked from afar and on the ground to improve trade in Africa to create a flourishing, self-sufficient set of nations and to improve living conditions for the impoverished and the food insecure people throughout the continent.

Due to the large scale of growing trade in Africa to a place of higher economic security, progress may not be readily apparent or may not appear to be moving quickly enough. However, African government officials are hopeful that, by improving trade and economic conditions at the regional level and working outwards toward an efficient continental market, Africa may soon achieve its ultimate goal and find itself in a competitive position in the world market.

Rob Lee

Photo: Flickr

The post Changes in Transcontinental Trade in Africa appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Mayan Women Spearhead Rural Development in Guatemala

Rural Development in GuatemalaAccording to the CIA, 79 percent of Guatemala’s indigenous population lives under the poverty line. Guatemala suffers high rates of malnutrition that are disproportionately experienced among indigenous, Mayan communities. One organization, Qachuu Aloom, is working to improve conditions for Mayan communities by empowering Mayan women to spearhead rural development in Guatemala.

A History of Farming in Guatemala

Ending in 1996, Guatemala’s civil war lasted for 36 years. A report by the United Nations-backed truth commission found that Guatemalan security officials committed multiple acts of genocide against the Mayan population. More than 200,000 people died during the civil war, 83 percent of which were Mayan citizens. Mayan villages and families were torn apart, and Mayan corn plots and gardens were destroyed by the Guatemalan military.

In the years following the end of the civil war, agricultural development projects carpeted the area, distributing a development model that disseminated American and European hybrid seeds. The foreign development projects introduced high-input agriculture, requiring chemicals, fertilizers and expensive hybrid seeds. These projects were rarely successful in rural villages because the farmers could not save seeds from the hybrids and were instead forced to buy new seeds after every harvest, which were they could not afford.

The introduction of modern agriculture to Guatemala brought the accelerated loss of native seeds. Farmers were no longer applying organic fertilizer but using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This practice not only damaged good soil but also translated to a loss of identity, knowledge and heritage for the Mayan people. It has also been the antagonist that has kept Mayan communities in poverty.

In 2013, stunting due to malnutrition was rampant in rural areas, with some Mayan communities experiencing rates as high as 75 percent. The life expectancy in indigenous Mayan communities is shorter than in other communities in the country by 13 years, with an infant mortality rate is more than doubled. Poverty affects indigenous Mayan women even greater. Mayan women have limited access to health facilities and proper healthcare, which explains the high rates of maternal and infant mortality. The maternal mortality rate among Mayan women is estimated to be five times the national average at 190 women out of 100,000 live births.

Qachuu Aloom in Guatemala

For the last 15 years, the organization Qachuu Aloom (The Garden’s Edge) has been working with farmers from 25 Maya Achí communities in Guatemala. Out of Qachuu Aloom’s 500 associated members, 80 percent are women. Qachuu Aloom positions women in leadership roles, making Mayan women the spearhead for rural development in Guatemala. Qachuu Aloom was established to help families rebuild their lives after decades of civil war.

More than 60 percent of the people living in the Qachuu Aloom partnered communities are rural workers and producers. Qachuu Aloom has set up networks to improve the commercialization of organic products and medicinal plants so that its members can increase their economic health. In the gardens, members produce amaranth flour, pigeon pea flour and salted squash. The products give members an alternative income stream so they can reinvest in their communities, farms and families. Qachuu Aloom also couples its development measures with the preservation of native seeds. The organization built a seed bank in the municipality of Rabinal that ensures food sovereignty, promotes ancient ancestral knowledge and contributes to food security for its members.

Mil Milagros in Guatemala

Mil Milagros, another community-led development organization, has been empowering Mayan women to be the spearheads for rural development in Guatemala. Since its inception in 2007, Mil Milagros has been equipping mothers and teachers with skills and resources to improve the lives of children and families in rural Guatemala. In regions of Guatemala where primary school completion was as low as 40 percent, Mil Milagros partner schools have raised this percentage up to 97 percent. The organization has also helped combat malnutrition. Through Early Childhood Development workshops and by providing nutritional supplements and vitamins to Mil Milagros mothers, malnutrition has decreased by half.

Development projects that enlist women as the agent of change and power are successful in rural regions because when women are given opportunities to extend their economic margins, that money gets reinvested in their children, their household, and their community. Organizations like Qachuu Aloom and Mil Milagros recognize women’s potential and work to empower Mayan women to be the spearheads for rural development in Guatemala.

Sasha Kramer
Photo: Flickr

The post Mayan Women Spearhead Rural Development in Guatemala appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Mayan Women Spearhead Rural Development in Guatemala

Rural Development in GuatemalaAccording to the CIA, 79 percent of Guatemala’s indigenous population lives under the poverty line. Guatemala suffers high rates of malnutrition that are disproportionately experienced among indigenous, Mayan communities. One organization, Qachuu Aloom, is working to improve conditions for Mayan communities by empowering Mayan women to spearhead rural development in Guatemala.

A History of Farming in Guatemala

Ending in 1996, Guatemala’s civil war lasted for 36 years. A report by the United Nations-backed truth commission found that Guatemalan security officials committed multiple acts of genocide against the Mayan population. More than 200,000 people died during the civil war, 83 percent of which were Mayan citizens. Mayan villages and families were torn apart, and Mayan corn plots and gardens were destroyed by the Guatemalan military.

In the years following the end of the civil war, agricultural development projects carpeted the area, distributing a development model that disseminated American and European hybrid seeds. The foreign development projects introduced high-input agriculture, requiring chemicals, fertilizers and expensive hybrid seeds. These projects were rarely successful in rural villages because the farmers could not save seeds from the hybrids and were instead forced to buy new seeds after every harvest, which were they could not afford.

The introduction of modern agriculture to Guatemala brought the accelerated loss of native seeds. Farmers were no longer applying organic fertilizer but using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This practice not only damaged good soil but also translated to a loss of identity, knowledge and heritage for the Mayan people. It has also been the antagonist that has kept Mayan communities in poverty.

In 2013, stunting due to malnutrition was rampant in rural areas, with some Mayan communities experiencing rates as high as 75 percent. The life expectancy in indigenous Mayan communities is shorter than in other communities in the country by 13 years, with an infant mortality rate is more than doubled. Poverty affects indigenous Mayan women even greater. Mayan women have limited access to health facilities and proper healthcare, which explains the high rates of maternal and infant mortality. The maternal mortality rate among Mayan women is estimated to be five times the national average at 190 women out of 100,000 live births.

Qachuu Aloom in Guatemala

For the last 15 years, the organization Qachuu Aloom (The Garden’s Edge) has been working with farmers from 25 Maya Achí communities in Guatemala. Out of Qachuu Aloom’s 500 associated members, 80 percent are women. Qachuu Aloom positions women in leadership roles, making Mayan women the spearhead for rural development in Guatemala. Qachuu Aloom was established to help families rebuild their lives after decades of civil war.

More than 60 percent of the people living in the Qachuu Aloom partnered communities are rural workers and producers. Qachuu Aloom has set up networks to improve the commercialization of organic products and medicinal plants so that its members can increase their economic health. In the gardens, members produce amaranth flour, pigeon pea flour and salted squash. The products give members an alternative income stream so they can reinvest in their communities, farms and families. Qachuu Aloom also couples its development measures with the preservation of native seeds. The organization built a seed bank in the municipality of Rabinal that ensures food sovereignty, promotes ancient ancestral knowledge and contributes to food security for its members.

Mil Milagros in Guatemala

Mil Milagros, another community-led development organization, has been empowering Mayan women to be the spearheads for rural development in Guatemala. Since its inception in 2007, Mil Milagros has been equipping mothers and teachers with skills and resources to improve the lives of children and families in rural Guatemala. In regions of Guatemala where primary school completion was as low as 40 percent, Mil Milagros partner schools have raised this percentage up to 97 percent. The organization has also helped combat malnutrition. Through Early Childhood Development workshops and by providing nutritional supplements and vitamins to Mil Milagros mothers, malnutrition has decreased by half.

Development projects that enlist women as the agent of change and power are successful in rural regions because when women are given opportunities to extend their economic margins, that money gets reinvested in their children, their household, and their community. Organizations like Qachuu Aloom and Mil Milagros recognize women’s potential and work to empower Mayan women to be the spearheads for rural development in Guatemala.

Sasha Kramer
Photo: Flickr

The post Mayan Women Spearhead Rural Development in Guatemala appeared first on The Borgen Project.

How Technology Transforms Agriculture

Technology Transforms Agriculture in Developing CountriesSmallholder farmers and their families make up to almost 75 percent of the world’s poor population. Struggling with access to health care, clean drinking water and education are just some of the daily challenges these people face. A digital technology company called Ricult is striving to improve the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers in developing countries by solving agricultural problems with technology-based solutions. Ricult has already helped 10,000 farmers across Thailand and Pakistan and continues to prove that technology transforms agriculture in developing countries every day.

Technology Transforms Agriculture

Ricult requires farmers to enter in their geo-coordinates through their app. It then uses geospatial data streams that monitor the environment through weather, satellite, and soil analytics. This provides the farmer with valuable data such as soil conditions to ensure optimal growth.

Some of the basic problems that poor farmers face include inadequate access to weather data, no pest attack forecast, storage issues, low-profit margins and credit access. According to Usman Javaid, the CEO of Ricult, the biggest reason why microfinance institutions haven’t been able to alleviate poverty in developing markets is that they only focus on one part of the problem by providing credit.

The Work of Government of Pakistan

Providing credit is the main way the Government of Pakistan seeks to transform agriculture. The government has adopted a long-term development strategy that aims to remodel the country into an upper middle-income country by 2025. The government developed the Five Year Plan that aims to ensure national food security and reduce rural poverty by increasing productivity, competitiveness and environmental safety. Through this program, the government provides $3 billion in subsidies, grants and loans. They are also providing credit to farmers who own up to 12.5 acres of land and are facing massive irrigation costs.

Ricult as Example how Technology Transforms Agriculture

Javaid says that one of the biggest problems in developing countries is that when farmers receive cash, they will use it for anything and everything but not for agriculture. The country gives an in-kind loan of inputs delivered to the doorstep of the farmers and accompanies this with insightful and actionable agronomic data from optimal sowing times to yield forecasts. This is just one of the examples of how exactly technology transforms agriculture.

Another great component about Ricult is that it allows farmers to get paid within 48 hours. Farmers generally use a middleman who delivers produce from the farm to the markets. Middlemen often stagger payments and cost additional input. Ricult offers five times lower interest rates than middlemen. Ricult has received a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation and continues to transform agriculture in developing countries by making a positive impact in the lives of farmers.

A Pakistani farmer named Faraz Shah has said that the current system of informal credit was not working for the farmers. They were very upset, but Ricult has greatly improved their lives by offering credit at much cheaper prices and improving them with high-quality products. Thailand farmer BubpaWorawat said that Ricult dashboard with its color coding system lets him know in which part of his land growth is stunted so he can take immediate action unlike before when he could not personally scout the areas and he would not know about the problem until it was too late.

Ricult is only one example of how does technology transforms agriculture. Since agriculture is a prevalent way of life in less developed countries, in which most of the poor people of the world live, it is very important to develop the new ways and to use technology to help these people to be more effective in their line of work. By doing so, technology can help poor people get out of the cycle of poverty.

– Grace Klein

Photo: Flickr

The post How Technology Transforms Agriculture appeared first on The Borgen Project.

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The post Technology Transforms Agriculture appeared first on The Borgen Project.

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