The Vibrant Village Foundation supports Mercy Corps with a $425,000 grant to build the capacity of small-scale farmers to improve incomes and reach higher value retail markets in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Read more about the Inclusive Market Alliances for Rural Entrepreneurs (IMARE) program.
Strength to Fight
For years, Modesta Ramirez Mendez's life centered on caring for her family and her home, and raising small livestock to help provide for her family in their village of Cabrican, Guatemala. But seven years ago, the 57-year-old with a third-grade education had to take over the role of breadwinner for the family after her husband, a gas station attendant, lost his sight during an accident.
To meet the new challenge of providing for her children, she joined a local farmers' association, the Buena Vista producers' group, participants in the Vibrant Village and Mercy Corps agricultural support program, Inclusive Market Alliances for Rural Entrepreneurs (IMARE). As a member of the Buena Vista producers' group, she began planting radishes, potatoes and cauliflower on a small, 110-square-meter plot. She sold the produce locally.
“After that first harvest, I realized that [all the work] was all worth it. We wouldn’t have been able to do it on our own, but Mercy Corps provided us with support to improve our production and helped us improve our income," Modesta says. "Now, I’m planting 220 square meters and have diversified the crops. I’m planting cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and potatoes. Everything is coming up nicely and I’m able to sell the harvest here in the community and on the local market. I have made $70 to $105 in profit, aside from what we eat at home, and I reinvest the capital so I can keep up my production.”
She says that before Mercy Corps, her income was very uncertain. She was not used to working outside the home, having always relied on her husband.
“I’ve taken on the role of both father and mother to my 15-year-old daughter, Gloria Onoria, who is in high school, and my 17-year-old son, Joaquin, who is studying to be an accountant," Modesta says. "Before they head off to school, they help me out in the field with the crops.”
“Since I started participating in the Mercy Corps IMARE Project, I have found support and grown as a woman. I realized that we can be successful in supporting our families," Modesta says proudly. "I have learned so much. And I can be there for my husband, who is no longer able to work.” Modesta is now the Vice President of the Buena Vista small producers' group in Cabrican.
“As a result of my participation in the vegetable production project," she continues, "I have been able to pay for my children’s studies, household expenses, medical treatment for my husband, and a few other things that I need.”