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Our Blog: Agriculture
November 29, 2012
Visit to farmers' cooperative in Guatemala
by Laura Koch
It was a cold, clear day in Buena Vista, a small village in the mountains surrounding Quetzaltenago, in the Western Highlands of Guatemala.
A dozen residents congregated in the home of a community organizer who has been working closely with Mercy Corps staff since 2011. The woman proudly explained why her community is called Buena Vista, as she pointed to the strking 360-degree view of the surrounding hills and communities.
A young man took the lead by introducing himself and members of the group, and giving an overview of the agricultural project that he and others participate in. IMARE – Inclusive Market Alliances for Rural Entrepreneurs – is a Vibrant Village-supported project, helping farmers establish local and international market relationships for crops produced in their cooperatives. Through a holistic model, the IMARE project is also working to promote sanitation and nutrition, raise awareness on gender equity and emphasize the importance of women’s role in the formal economy.
Each community organizer took a few minutes to share what they are learning through the project. A young organizer explained how she is helping families work together to create their own household management plan, using a simple tool developed by Mercy Corps. Each participant takes home their own poster-sized ‘map’ where they record and track their progress towards goals to making their home safer, healthier and more productive. Having proper grey water drainage, reliable water purification systems and adequate caging for animals are examples of the topics covered.
It was clear from our conversation that these posters naturally integrate into the Guatemalan’s home décor and serve as useful reminders to family members about their commitment to improving sanitation and nutrition.
September 1, 2012
New film about our programs in Ecuador

We invite you to watch this short, 3-minute video by Blind Lyle Films featuring our projects in Ecuador and highlighing many of the people most impacted by our programs. 

August 31, 2012
Women farmers access markets in Guatemala

In 2011, IMARE formed the village of Buena Vista’s first farmers’ co-op. Led by a woman president, half of the 12-person group’s members are women. The members own very little land, with the average family owning .2 hectares. Recognizing that the amount of land owned by each family was a limiting factor for the cultivation of vegetables for sales, they pooled their resources and leased an additional plot of land on which to grow their crops. The group chose to grow cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. They use the leased land for demonstration plots that allow each family to learn how to grow the chosen crops, replicating the techniques in their individually owned lands.

A buyer has been chosen and the crops have been harvested and sold in July and August. The group will also obtain a space in the local market to sell directly to the public.

In addition to increasing production, the group’s members attend food preparation demonstrations that teach members how to incorporate the produce into their families’ diets. Their goals for this year include maximizing their income by pooling their resources and collectively administering the production on the leased land. They also hope to position themselves for a productive microenterprise in the local market.