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Seed Programs International

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.
 

Men with gardening tools

Improving nutrition in a sustainable way requires having good seeds, access to training and information, and appropriate tools. Many people have the energy, ambition and are ready for the work but they do not have the resources to get started. Having access to right garden tools and supplies makes a community’s goal of nutrition improvement easily achievable, especially for SPI’s seed recipients.

Appropriate tools and equipment contribute to the broad objective of increasing the viability of the small farms and gardens supported by our partner organizations. Most smaller groups and individual seed recipients in Liberia use traditional technologies that are inefficient. Although power tools and more modern tools can be found in Liberia, most recipients and our partner organizations do not have the resources to cover the cost of these types of equipment. It is, therefore, our goal to help fill this gap with good quality tools and equipment that are affordable and suited to the scale of operations of the small farmers and gardeners.

in May 2017 11 tools banks with little or no tools at all were fully stocked with tools for SPI seed recipients across five counties in Liberia. With their new tool banks, our Liberia partners are preparing themselves to train seed recipients how to operate their new tool banks in an inclusive and efficient manner, and create a self-supporting system of sharing tools and other resources.

SPI provided the tools with support from you and from GlobalGiving and paid the cost of transport to our distribution point, which was the office of one of our partners in Liberia.

The tools funded by SPI are selected specifically with the environment and local culture in mind. These tools are:

a) adapted to allow efficient and speedy work with the minimum of fatigue

b) of simple design, so that they can be made locally;

c) light in weight, for easy transportation

d) ready for immediate use without loss of time for preparatory adjustments;

f) made of easily available materials.

Across Liberia, it’s mostly small kitchen gardens and small-scale farmers who put food on a villager’s table. It is because of the hard work of these gardeners and farmers that we have accomplished our goals. We support sustainable options for our partners, instead of pushing them into the endless cycle of buying bad seeds and chemical fertilizers and pesticides that only damage their most precious resource, their land.

When working with our in-country partners, we look at a variety of resource areas, including access to seeds,  tools, and training to determine the gaps and how to invest SPI resources to sustainably contribute to the rebuilding of communities who have survived disease and war many times over.

We are proud of our Liberia partners who are working tirelessly to make a difference in the communities they serve. Despite a variety of difficulties, they have been able to obtain and share valuable horticultural and life skills that have become life-saving for many who rely on them.

Thank you for supporting our work, and thank you to GlobalGiving for your partnership!

Unloading truck

 

Rouse helps organize an Ixil community of women.

Rouse helps organize an Ixil community of women.

When we discuss SPI programs, we talk a lot about livelihoods. So, what is a livelihood? A livelihood encompasses the capabilities, assets, and strategies that people use to make a living. And a productive livelihood is an important part of our social, emotional, and economic well-being.

At their core, SPI programs provide access to resources so people can grow food and establish a productive livelihood. We join with women's gardening efforts in the most impoverished countries worldwide by providing top-quality vegetable seeds and locally-driven support through programs that provide them with a path to empowerment, income, and nutrition.

One such partnership is our new women’s empowerment initiative in Chajul, Guatemala. Tucked away in the highlands of western Guatemala, the small but vibrant Ixil community of Chajul was devastated by a 36-year civil war. Many indigenous Guatemalan women who survived the horrific violence are living with the trauma of losing family members, friends, and neighbors — just one legacy of the country’s civil war.

Rouse Ramirez helps organize an Ixil community of women in Chajul, Guatemala
Rouse Ramirez helps organize an Ixil community of women in Chajul, Guatemala

When we discuss SPI programs, we talk a lot about livelihoods. So, what is a livelihood? A livelihood encompasses the capabilities, assets, and strategies that people use to make a living. And a productive livelihood is an important part of our social, emotional, and economic well-being. Productive, successful livelihoods require access to resources. When it comes to women’s agricultural livelihoods, we know that female farmers produce more than half the developing world's food, yet they own less than 2% of the land and have significantly less access to the tools they need for success — inputs like seeds, tools, and knowledge.

At their core, SPI programs provide access to resources so people can grow food and establish a productive livelihood. We join with women's gardening efforts in the most impoverished countries worldwide by providing top-quality vegetable seeds and locally-driven support through programs that provide them with a path to empowerment, income, and nutrition.

We work to develop and support these paths because we recognize the powerful potential of communities and their members to create a hunger-free future when given the chance. It is the community members, not SPI, who drive social change to adopt these pathways. Our programs are partnerships that rely upon the expertise and direction of local leaders; this is one way we ensure that our investment is mutual and will continue long after we are no longer involved.

One such partnership is our women’s empowerment initiative in Chajul, Guatemala. Tucked away in the highlands of western Guatemala, the small but vibrant Ixil community of Chajul was devastated by a 36-year civil war. Many indigenous Guatemalan women who survived the horrific violence are living with the trauma of losing family members, friends, and neighbors — just one legacy of the country’s civil war.

SPI’s gardening program in Chajul provides resources and training for women to create and maintain backyard gardens. Gardening provides opportunities for these women to participate in the restoration and strengthening of their local economy, and simultaneously provides fresh, nutritious vegetables for their families. Gardening also provides an ideal space for psychosocial recovery from the ongoing trauma of war. In other words, this partnership program offers all the right components for a successful and productive livelihood.

“The biggest benefit from the garden is that families get to eat fresh vegetables at home that are full of nutrients.” — Rouse Ramirez, Chajul Area Program Coordinator

Limited access to resources is not the only barrier to livelihoods. Illiteracy is a significant hurdle for most participants. It prevents them from advocating for themselves or gaining access to key resources, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Many of the women are the main source of livelihood for their families, but limited access to information and key resources hinders their efforts to fortify their livelihoods.

With the help of our in-country Program Coordinator, Rouse Ramirez, women in the Chajul area are organizing themselves to support each other and overcome these common barriers. Rouse visits with women in their homes to ensure they don’t fall behind or miss out on group activities due to family obligations. When a group member isn’t able to access a community resource, Rouse brings the access to her! This community is a compelling model of women empowering women, and themselves.

While women in this community don’t have easy access to literacy and other education, they are beginning to partner with other women’s groups to exchange for access to education and vocational training. Mothers in the group share the dream that their children will have the educational opportunities they did not, and together they are realizing that dream. We’ll share more about this program as it develops. If their work is inspiring to you, I hope you’ll consider supporting our work with them.

Contact Us

Seed Programs International

PO Box 9163
Asheville, NC 28815
828-707-1640

 

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.