Thanks to its cooperation with the renowned Zamorano University of Agriculture, Kolping Honduras will be able to train 340 small-scale farmers in improved cultivation methods next year. This is another step towards overcoming poverty by helping people to help themselves.
On his first business trip, desk officer Mario Schenk visited Kolping Honduras and got to know the association and its projects. Almost all of the approximately 7,000 members live in rural areas and are small-scale farmers. They live from the crops they grow and generate additional income by selling their crops such as beans, cooking bananas, rice or citrus fruits. Some members are also coffee farmers and earn their money by selling their coffee beans.
Creating food security
To help the families improve their income, Kolping trains them not only in modern cultivation and irrigation methods, but also in business management and bookkeeping. “One focus of our work is the diversification of smallholder farming, which means that our families grow several types of fruit and vegetables,” explained Rufino Rodriguez, managing director of Kolping Honduras to his visitor from Germany.
According to Mr. Rodriguez, a broader product range is more likely to ensure that families can be fed and do not go hungry. The advantage: if a crop fails, only a small proportion is affected and the other seeds can be harvested at a later stage. This makes farmers less vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Further training helps to increase harvests
So, Kolping trains its members to be prepared for periods of drought and heavy rainfall. They learn about the benefits of shade-providing plants, terracing fields on slopes and making compost from plant residues and animal manure. Kolping also provides the farmers with chickens and a few pigs as a basic stock. Kolping member Suyapa Maribel Lopez Perez from Opatoro in the north of the country has used this to build up a livelihood for herself and her two sons. ” Thanks to the animal manure, we now produce our own fertilizer, which is completely organic, and at the same time yields have increased significantly. We now sell crops instead of buying them.”
The success is evident: ” No matter where I went, Kolping families told me that they had increased their income by 20 percent as a result of the training,” says Mario Schenk happily. “This enables them to lead a self-determined life, a life above the subsistence level, a life in dignity.”
New cooperation with elite agricultural university
With funding from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Kolping Honduras launched a one-year cooperation with the renowned agricultural university Escuela Agrícola Panamericana Zamorano at the end of November 2023. The University of Zamorano advises governments and conducts research for private companies. According to its statutes, it must return profits to civil society and the development of small-scale farming. Kolping farmers in Honduras are now benefiting from this.
Further training for 340 Kolping farmers
The plan is to support 34 Kolping families with at least ten members in agriculture next year. Kolping members will learn on a model farm at the university, as well as in on-site training courses, how to use their available resources more efficiently and sustainably. They also receive support in marketing their products.
Managing Director Rodriguez has great expectations of the partnership. “Around 1,000 people (the farmers and their families) will significantly improve their income situation over the next year and adapt their cultivation methods to the impact of climate change”. According to Mr. Rodriguez, this will strengthen the families and Kolping as an association.
Horizontal water cistern
Another recent addition is the purchase of a special water cistern for sloping areas. Sponsored by the German Embassy in Honduras, it helps 30 members to improve their harvests and diet. This cistern looks like a large air mattress measuring 20 x 10 meters and lies flat on the field. It can be transported more easily into the rough terrain and is specifically designed for sloping terrain. A heavy, high cistern would not withstand the dry ground.