Seed Programs International

Honduras

  • "We have a lot of love and respect for seeds."

     Video still of Honduran woman farmer

    Video still of Honduran woman farmer

    "Farming is an art. It requires an artist. The farmers who produce seeds, both men and women, are artists and scientists." So says Marvin Gomez, one of the leaders of the impressive farmer-run group FIPAH in Honduras who are just about to receive the first shipment of vegetable seeds from SPI.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9iT5hVwZ1s

    Today we are sharing a video produced by USC Canada highlighting FIPAH's work. I hope you have the time to watch the whole 13 minutes. It gives a wonderful window into the communities in Honduras where our vegetable seeds are headed.

  • 2015's Best Photos: Small but Powerful Successes

    Woman with Radishes, near Santa Rita

    Woman with Radishes, near Santa Rita

    As the year comes to a close, it's time for reflection! To look back and capture a whole year of work is hard, but sometimes we like to hear and share the small stories instead of the big statistics. Here's one photo (and the story behind it) from each of our partnerships in Honduras made possible with your support.

    In the first picture is Mrs. Martinez from near Santa Rita, Honduras, delighted with her harvest of radishes to which the whole family contributed. There, SPI vegetable seeds are distributed along with technical support by Mennonite Social Action Committee (CASM). Their team has developed a training program that includes appropriate irrigation technology, use of bio-enzymes, and pest control and nutrition using organic fertilizers.

  • A Boost from Rotary

    Vegetables on Hillside

    Vegetables on Hillside

    Dear Supporters,

    We're still in the fundraising (with your help!) and planning stage for this project in Honduras, so we can't yet bring you the stories and outcomes from the field that will eventually emerge.

    In the meantime, here's an interesting profile of the farmer group in Honduras who would receive the seeds: http://www.ccic.ca/_files/en/working_groups/003_food_2009-03_case_study_honduras.pdf

  • Copious Harvests in Copan

    Cucumber harvest, Mirasol, Honduras.

    Cucumber harvest, Mirasol, Honduras.

    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. Back in Spring, we reported that seeds were on the way to the Copan region in the care of Rotarians from Asheville, North Carolina. The results: greater than we could have imagined!

    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.
    • This Rotary support is matched by people like you who gave via GlobalGiving to support these seeds reaching people in need. 
    • 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.

    The Harvest

    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.

    The whole family gets involved preparing gardens.

    The whole family gets involved preparing gardens.

  • Field Update: FIPAH, ECAs & CIALs

    Transplanting tomato plants in Yorito

    Transplanting tomato plants in Yorito

    Last July, we shared how our field partner in Honduras, FIPAH (Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers), was working to organize field schools (ECAs) to train community-led farmer research teams (CIALs) over five regions in Honduras. These CIALs are tasked with:

    • On-farm conservation of farmer seed varieties
    • Secure seed supply through seed reproduction and sale
    • Participatory plant breeding
    • Community-run seed and gene banks
    • Cooperative grain storage systems

    (Read more about FIPAH and the CIALs in this PDF.)

    Their goal is to establish one ECA per region that will offer both general and region-specific agricultural training for the CIALs. The ECAs plan to develop a total of eight training modules, and three modules have already been developed:

    1. Organizing an ECA (a field school)
    2. Preparing the ground for a garden and constructing seedbeds
    3. Planting and transplanting. 


    FIPAH also reports that there are 53 participants, including 37 women and 16 men from 21 communities over 5 municipalities of Honduras. The ECAs currently have seven species of vegetables from which they can produce quality seed, and they are actively expanding this repository. These community leaders are distributing seeds that families can use to start their own gardens, and they will continue working with recipient families through January 2017. 

    FIPAH, the ECAs, and CIALs are laying the foundation to self-sustainability through community-led education and local seed production. By engaging community leaders to teach agriculture specific to each region, they ensure that this knowledge will remain in the collective memory of the community for generations to come. 

    We never take your support of these projects for granted. So, thank you, and may 2017 find you well!

    ECA participants in Yorito

    ECA participants in Yorito

    ECA participants in Vallecillos

    ECA participants in Vallecillos
  • Gauging Women's Empowerment in Seed Programming

    Woman in Bean fields, Courtesy FIPAH.

    Woman in Bean fields, Courtesy FIPAH.

    Sometimes we rely on the obvious to know a program is working: bountiful harvests, smiling families, heart-warming quotes. But other times, data helps.

    Our field partner in Honduras, FIPAH (Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers), has been doing great work to actually measure how lives change. They organize rural farmers into small groups and train them to lead the way in developing, growing, and using crops that are selected specifically for their climate, culture, and environment. FIPAH is aiming to scale to 173 farmer groups, representing 191 communities in 5 departments of Western and Central Honduras, by 2020. They are already more than halfway there!

    Project leaders Sally and Marvin state, "In the early days of the project, farmer-led research was new to all members. This encouraged shared learning between men and women. Women took seed selection skills out of the kitchen and into public space."  Recently FIPAH has shared some research information, particularly on the question of how women are impacted. Here are some findings:

    1. Female farmers will select different ideal traits, when breeding a new variety, than male farmers.
    2. Participating in a farmer group led to not only increased crop yields, but also better household nutrition and more savings.
    3. After participating in a FIPAH farmer group, women were more likely to
    • participate in other organizations
    • occupy important positions in the community
    • take on salaried work
    • administer family finances
    • visit friends and neighbors 
    • work with her spouse in the fields
    • make agricultural decisions for the household, such as what to grow, where. 

    FIPAH staff conclude: "Learning to do research gave poor women and men self-confidence. Self-confidence allowed women to use their liberty effectively and empowered them to make important household decisions."

     

  • In Closing: Self-Sufficiency & Resilience in Honduras

    Dona Bertulia in her heurto.
    Dona Bertulia in her heurto.

    Our best hope for any project is that we will work ourselves out of a job. When farmers acquire the skills they need to grow food, save seeds, and foster mutually beneficial relationships with neighboring communities, they lay a foundation for self-sufficiency that will last for generations to come.

    So, we are happy to say that this is our final report for Seeds to Grow 100 Tons of Needed Food in Honduras. Together with our primary partner, FIPAH, we have supported five Honduran communities in coming together to develop and adopt adaptable solutions. Thanks to the farmer schools and research teams (CIALs), farmers are empowered to respond to a changing environment and local economy. By including all members of the community, including women and youth, they have ensured that a broad pool of farmers have the knowledge needed for long-term resilience. continue the best practices developed by FIPAH’s research teams (CIALs).

    "Before, women didn't have any say in agriculture. Now they're active in many projects," said Hilda, CIAL's Women in Action coordinator and treasurer. "Now we have a say in what goes on in our farming communities. The men received us well. Women are good farmers because we are motivated and hard-working and organized. We are leaders."

    While we initially shipped seeds to Honduras, it later made more sense to purchase seeds locally to better adapt seed-saving techniques for each region. Sally from FIPAH writes, “The project flows from a successful seed field school piloted in Jesus de Otoro in 2015 supported by SPI. As per the original planning, each of the five regions where FIPAH operates is focused on producing specific seed varieties through field school training.” Below, you can see the seeds that each region chose to refine along with the breakdown of farmers who are now trained in seed production.

    Intibucá Sur: Tomato, Chile, Green Bean, Cucumber, Pepino
    12 Farmers: 5 Women and 7 Men

    Lempira Sur: Broccoli, Cauliflower Onion
    11 Farmers: 5 Women and 6 Men

    Otoro: Soybean, Coriander, Radish
    10 Farmers: 9 Women and 1 Man

    Yorito: Chile, Tomato
    10 Farmers: 9 Women and 1 Man

    Vallecillo: Onion, Cabbage
    13 Farmers: 2 Women and 11 Men

    The CIALs currently have 56 participants engaged in seed production enterprises — 30 women and 26 men from 21 communities over five regions. Our most recent field report focuses on the Jesus de Otoro region.

    Dona Bertulia

    Dona Bertulia is from the community of Las Pilas in the municipality of Sulaco. 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 learn new information about plant diseases, 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 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. She is now planning on selling tomato and chile seed to neighbours in addition to the vegetable harvest she usually offers. 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 neighbors will benefit from having access to seed which they can use in their own huertos to produce healthy food to nourish their families.

    In Closing

    With your help, we recently supported the acquisition of over 62,000 packets of seed. FIPAH reports that our partnership has benefited 100 communities in five regions where 829 families and 270 schoolchildren from grades 4 - 6. Six school gardens have been established where students share the responsibility of managing the garden with their parents. These gardens contribute healthy vegetables to the school’s lunch menu and will also provide plants that will be saved for seed. This is just one fantastic example of how the community has come together to create spaces for multi-generational collaboration.

    Seed production is the final stage of our involvement with this program. Having an exit strategy and supporting work toward that end is a core component of our model. Now that a strong, community-led network is in place for these Honduran farmers, our role in supporting this project has concluded.

    We are so grateful for your generous support of this project! We hope you will consider supporting one of our other projects and reading more about our work at www.seedprograms.org.

    Thank you!

    Dona Bertulia showing her crop.

    Dona Bertulia showing her crop.

    Farmers preparing organic fertilizer in Yorito.

    Farmers preparing organic fertilizer in Yorito.

    Farmers selecting fruit and vegetable plants.

    Farmers selecting fruit and vegetable plants.

    Farmers of Intibuca Sur, identifying diseases.

    Farmers of Intibuca Sur, identifying diseases.
     
  • It's all about the seed!

    Training Workshop

    Training Workshop

    One of the first questions we ask when considering a new partnership is, "Can we facilitate this partner's growth toward self-sufficiency and resilience?" Each partner is unique — each community has access to different resources and expertise, and we rely upon local leaders with boots on the ground to help make key decisions in our programs. Our programs aim to first invest in local relationships that will help ensure our partner's resilience long after we are no longer directly supporting a program in the region.

    When we begin looking at seed selection together, we first determine whether quality seed is already accessible though the partner's existing relationships. Our partners often already know which vegetables work best and whether good seed is available locally. Access to good seed is one of the primary drivers for long-term agricultural sustainability, and FIPAH's research teams (CIALs) are actively working to establish self-sustaining local seed production. Since quality seed is available locally, our role in this partnership has shifted to support FIPAH and the CIALs by working together to purchase appropriate vegetable seeds and offer seed saving workshops through the field schools (ECAs).

    In a recent report, FIPAH reported the purchase and distribution of seed to Yorito, Vallecillo, Otoro, Lempira Sur, and Intibucá Sur — regions where seed production is being taught. The number of SPI-equivalent packets includes:

    • 12,000 Pepper
    • 31,000 Tomato
    • 4,800 Cabbage
    • 3,000 Radish
    • 1,200 Squash
    • 4,150 Cilantro
    • 2,000 Onion
    • 1,100 Cucumber
    • 484 Beet
    • 15,00 Soy
    • 694 Mustard Greens
    • 173 Watermelon
    • 10 Celery
    • 10 Parsley

    We're looking forward to hearing what happened with the seeds and we'll tell you about that in the next report. Until then, thank you for your continued support and for helping to strengthen these communities toward resilience!

    Workshop Participant

    Workshop Participant

    Doing the Work!

    Doing the Work!
     
  • New Partners Planting Gardens in Honduras

    copan mennonite seeds 3 Large

    Honduran farmer Tomas prepares soil for planting.

    The connections and learning achieved with your support and generosity are opening new doors. In the past few months, Seed Programs International has forged several new partnerships in Honduras. 

    Two of the partnerships were achieved through the powerful international network of Rotarians. Here in Asheville, North Carolina, Asheville Rotarians travel yearly to be hosted by the Copan Ruinas club in Honduras. The team includes dental and opthamology professionals who provide dental and eye care for hundreds of children and adults who have never received such services.

  • Project Funded! Deep Planning Underway.

    Sharing seeds

    Sharing seeds

    Great News. We give our deep thanks to the Zimmer Foundation for committing $5,000 of support for this project. GlobalGiving progress had persisted for six months in a very "slow but steady" fashion, but this big bump finally allows us to jump in with both feet.

    Planning Underway. Fredy Sierra and Jose Jimenez with our partner FIPAH in Honduras along with Dr. Sally Humphries (University of Guelph, Ontario) have begun to execute a deep and wonderful plan to use the vegetable seeds youare helping to provide! Here is an excerpt from their plan, as communicated by Dr. Humphries. I thought you as a donor via GlobalGiving would be esepcially interested in the plan for training. It always wise along with giving seeds to also share knowledge - and set up local bearers of that knowledge for success.

  • Seeds Selected, Shipping Soon

    Future Vegetable Seed Growers, Yorita, Honduras

    Future Vegetable Seed Growers, Yorita, Honduras

    Great news! Our first shipment of seeds, for planting soon, is set to go out as soon as import requirements are worked through.

    Here is what our Honduran partners have selected. This is the first of two seasonal shipments. "We are just learning about vegetable growing and expect some amount of trial and error, so the farmer groups wish to try as many different vegetables as possible this first time," state project coordinators Fredy Sierra and Sally Humphries.

  • Why is there Hunger in Honduras?

    Participatory Farmer Research in Honduras

    Participatory Farmer Research in Honduras

    Dear Project Supporters,

    We continue in our quest to fund this project for the deserving participatory Honduran farmer group, FIPAH. Please use the share links at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/seeds-for-honduras/share/ to spread the word about the need for vegetable seeds and training in these communities.

    Meanwhile, I wanted to let you know a little bit about the context of hunger in Honduras. We are encouraged in crowdfunding to tell the most personal stories possible, to put you, the donor, in the shoes of the individuals you are being asked to support. For most of us, myself included, the power to move us to give is in the expression on the face of a hungry child in a photograph, or the joy of an adult harvesting fresh vegetables from a field.

  • With Your Help: New Seeds in Copan Ruinas

    Vegetable seeds reaching rural farmers.

    Vegetable seeds reaching rural farmers.

    It takes many hands to make important things happen. In this case, the seeds that you helped fund were carried abroad in the capable hands of the Rotary Club of Asheville (NC)'s 7th annual trip to remote villages in Honduras, in partnership with the Rotary Club in Copan Ruinas.

    This is a multi-purpose trip. At its core, Rotary organizes a dental, medical, and eye care clinic which reaches almost a thousand patients in a week who otherwise have no access to these services. "Quite frankly, it just breaks your heart because we have to teach the children how to use a toothbrush and toothpaste because they’ve never had those before," says lead trip organizer, Rotarian Bob. 

  • Women Producing Seed Locally in Honduras

    Hondurans are growing the next generation of seeds

    Hondurans are growing the next generation of seeds
    • Doña Isidora from Ojo de Agua is reproducing onion seed with what she learned at the field school.
    • Doña Magdalena from Guayabal has started to test methods of reproducing lettuce seed.
    • Doña Ignacia from El Injerto is reproducing turnip seed.  

    Nothing could make us happier! Here at SPI, we provide seeds so that those facing malnutrition can grow some of the food they need. But when people like these three Honduran women learn to select, grow, save, and store seeds for their neighbors, in addition to growing food, we are thrilled to know that the day is coming soon when we will be out of a job, in that region . . . and this is the best possible outcome of our work. 

  • Working on Soil Quality

    farmer trials Large

    Bean research led by small farmers in honduras.

    We have encountered some difficulties getting recent shipments of seed into Honduras because of import restrictions that require negotiation with the ministry of Agriculture.  But that  delay is perhaps for the best because of the very heavy rains in the fall in Honduras.  So the bad news is actually good news --  we would have lost many of the seeds to flooding had they gone in earlier. Luckily, there are continued traditional vegetable planting seasons in the early months of 2015. This year, the nutrition provided by these vegetables will be especially important because the endless rain has made it hard to mature, dry, and harvest the staple food crops of maize and beans.

    Meanwhile, the work to build farmer skills, knowledge, and leadership by our partner FIPAH has continued unabated.

Contact Us

Seed Programs International

PO Box 9163
Asheville, NC 28815
+1-828-337-8632

 

Seed Programs Canada (Affiliate)

Registered Charity No. 839858107RR0001
Lombardy, ON
613-406-6100

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Seed Programs International (SPI)

Seed Programs InternationalSeed Programs International (SPI) is a non-profit, tax exempt, non-governmental humanitarian organization.

We work thorough other humanitarian organizations, church groups, service clubs and individual donors, to provide quality seed to impoverished communities in developing countries enabling them to grow some of their own food. In addition to seed, SPI provides critical seed expertise and experience operating seed based self help programs.”

SPI is operated by individuals with over 50 years seed industry experience plus over 20 years experience in vegetable research and production. We also have 15 years experience operating programs that have successfully shipped seed to over 70 countries on five continents. SPI has shipped enough seed to plant over 1,000,000 vegetable gardens, providing more than 20 kinds of vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals often missing in people’s diets.