Local farmers proudly show their harvest. Credit: Gilvan Barreto/Oxfam
Local farmers proudly showing their harvest

Honduras: People learn to improve their crops

“Before ODECO appeared, women didn’t participate very much, but now we’ve learned that we’re all equal.”
José Pérez

Arcadio Pacheco has reason to be proud. When he looks at his land, he sees it full of vegetables and flush with good irrigation systems. Things have changed a lot in La Mohaga in western Honduras.

La Mohaga is a quiet place – so quiet that ten years ago, the town was isolated, and it was easier to get to El Salvador than to the rest of the country. Now 75, Arcadio recalls a time when he had to emigrate to support his family. He worked as a laborer in the fields in return for a salary that was barely enough to feed his children.

Despite owning some land, Arcadio lacked the knowledge of how to farm it. Now, with support from Oxfam and our local partner, the Organization for the Development of Corquín (ODECO), he and his children are well versed in the best types of irrigation systems to use, how to make organic fertilizer, how to stagger crop production so they have a continuous harvest of various products, and how to plant a garden to ensure food for the family.

Arrival of ODECO

Six years ago, when ODECO came to Belén Gualcho municipality, it set out to ensure food for the 200 families that live in the area. This was an essential step. “There used to be a lot of malnutrition but thanks to the gardens, eggs, and fruit trees, the situation has changed. Now we don’t have as many medical emergencies in the community and the children don’t get sick as much,” says local resident Paula Vázquez.

At the same time, ODECO began providing technical training, involving women in production, and promoting education as the engine of development. “Before ODECO appeared, women didn’t participate very much, but now we’ve learned that we’re all equal,” explains José Pérez.

Dramatic changes

In half a decade, life in Belén Gualcho has changed drastically. Eliaquín Pacheco is a clear example: “Before we got organized, life was hard. We lived as migrant workers and travelled long distances to work as day laborers. With ODECO we realized that we had to come home and go back to the land.” And they did. Today, Eliaquín grows vegetables on ten hectares of land and has eight hectares of forest, which provide wood for construction.

Eliaquín is also the president of APROALCE, an association with 110 members that have come together to pool their produce – cabbages, lettuce, and carrots – to sell in El Salvador. “Thanks to Oxfam’s support, we have an accord with Agrolempa [a Salvadoran importer] to export these products.” The first step is to make bulk sales. The second, still in the planning phase, is to expand the range of products and buyers.

Focus on education

Education has become an essential element in the development of this municipality, but people haven’t always viewed it in this way. “It’s easy to see the difference between then and now. Six years ago, once the kids got to third grade, we took them out to work in the fields,” says Eleaquín. There were barely enough children in the communities’ schools to have a teacher assigned to them. Now, over 60 young people are ready to continue their secondary education outside the municipality.

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