In August of 2014, ECHO established the Latin America/Caribbean Regional Impact Team. The goals of this team are to:

  • Make appropriate technical information more widely available among persons and organizations who serve to alleviate hunger and improve the lives of small-scale farmers.
  • Increase the awareness of regionally important crops, animal breeds and farming systems by seeking out, sharing and promoting effective indigenous innovations related to food sufficiency and poverty alleviation.
  • Increase the availability of seeds of select regionally important crops among development workers, encourage regional seed saving and sharing and determine the availability of other significant plant material.
  • Encourage networking and information sharing among development workers in each region.

Contact:

Cecilia Gonzalez

Email Address:

lac@echonet.org

17391 Durrance Road
North Fort Myers, FL 33917
United States of America

Telephone: +1.239.567.3322

Latin America / Caribbean Updates

Seeds for a Future - Suchitepequez, Guatemala 2019-09-09

ECHOcommunity Network Member Spotlight

My name is Thomas and I work for Seeds for a Future in Suchitepequez, Guatemala. We have a very well-working nutrition program called "Casa-Granja" to support rural families on an improved healthy diet. Malnutrition and Food Insecurity create a vicious cycle of poverty from which it is very difficult to emerge. To help fight these twin evils, Seeds for a Future’s primary focus is helping rural families ensure their access to enough nutrition-packed food, so children and adults can be strong and healthy.

As with all of our projects, our first steps were to listen and learn. After a year of community meetings and small “get to know you” projects, we could see that an integrated approach was required. Just as food security, nutrition, family income, and health do not occur independently, our program approaches these sectors as parts of a whole.

The practical goal of the “Casa-Granja” or Backyard Farm concept is to share skills and techniques to secure access to sufficient nutritious food.

We coach families in:

  • Understanding nutrition needs, especially for children, and using the foods they have grown in familiar recipes.
  • Maintaining hygienic conditions and procedures in kitchens and food preparation with low-tech methods.
  • Managing household and garden waste into compost and repurposed materials.

While our main focus is on Nutrition and Food Security, we also work to foster improvements in family income, and we offer additional learning opportunities via our Community Learning Center. Our featured program is the Backyard Farm, or Casa-Granja, which encompasses a self-help method for improving rural family nutrition. It is proving to be extremely successful on several important fronts:

Families are adopting and “embedding” the skills and knowledge they learn in ways that produce a lasting behavior change. Family nutrition is improving, as is the family’s economic health, through better utilization of available space and resources.

As a result of our years of support and coaching in the Chocolá region, more than 1400 families have improved their nutrition and family economy. In many ways, our working method can be likened to an Agricultural Extension Service, but it is much more. While we feature agriculture to ensure an adequate supply of nutritious food, we also teach the basics and importance of nutrition; food preparation hygiene; sensitivity to environmental issues, including recycling, reusing and re-purposing; and always work to instill an interest in learning. 

Seeds for a Future, and the Semillas Para el Futuro Field Team are inspired by the success the families achieve as a result of our work. We hope you too are inspired and will share your ideas, your recommendations, your cautions, and concerns -- any contribution that will make our effort better planned, more efficient, and with a better chance of succeeding!

Share with us on ECHOcommunity Conversations

https://seedsforafuture.org/

About Latin America / Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean is a region of deep contrasts. Over the past two decades there has been substantial social and economic growth, enabling some to make the leap from poverty and vulnerability to stability and relative middle class comfort. Infrastructure in most large cities is modern with reliable transportation systems connecting centers of trade. The landscape is dotted with shopping centers that host well known American businesses.

However, beginning at the edges of the modern cities one can see the acute symptoms of a widespread and destructive force; the crushing weight of hopelessness in the rural villages that are home to nearly half of the region’s population. Every year hundreds of rural families abandon farming as their traditional survival strategies are no longer sufficient to support even a meager existence.

47 million people in the region suffer from hunger and malnutrition, mainly women and children.