Copan Department, Honduras is a mountainous region famous for its pre-Colombian archaeological site and beautiful landscapes. But in late 2015, the government of Copan declared a famine emergency as ongoing drought led to widespread loss of three most important crops for income and nutrition: corn, beans, and coffee. In this context, fresh vegetables grown in gardens at home (where scarce water is carried anyway) provide essential nutrition and income. This is the site of one of SPI’s most remarkable partnerships—remarkable in terms of how many hands, hearts, and wallets contribute to its success.
It Takes a Team
Here’s the amazing story of how SPI seeds reach families in Copan:
- Dozens of people, businesses, and Rotary clubs in western North Carolina contribute to the Rotarians Against Hunger (RAH) program. RAH packs meals for local food banks AND sends seeds to Rotary-linked projects worldwide.
- The Rotary Club of Copan Ruinas, Honduras applies to receive seeds from the RAH program. They work with local charities like Mennonite Social Action Committee to design a training plan and choose seeds that are appropriate to local gardeners’ culture and purposes.
- Members of the Rotary Club of Asheville carry the seeds to Copan on their annual trip that also includes dental and eye care clinics.
- Mennonite Social Action Committee distributes the seeds, along with training, to those most motivated families in the region.
190 families in 15 villages received seeds for vegetables including mustard greens, spinach, carrots, onions, and squash. Training was provided on topics ranging from terracing the steep land, to planting and transplanting technique, to organic fertilizer sources. In the end, our program partners actually counted and weighed the harvest:
- 30,000 bunches mustard greens
- 20,000 carrots
- 6,500 pounds green beans
- 60,000 cucumbers
- 6,000 bunches spinach
- 4,500 bunches onion
- 30,000 squash
- 50,000 bunches radish
What a tremendous haul—credit is due to the hard-working gardeners and their trainers for achieving this harvest in a time of drought and general famine.
If you are a Rotarian, or know one, either in the US or abroad, you can have a similar impact. Apply today to get seeds from Rotarians Against Hunger. The 2016 deadline is right around the corner.