A large proportion of the Guatemalan population is malnourished. In the Development Fund’s project areas, as many as 70 percent of all children below five years are chronically malnourished with protein deficiency. This may give permanent health damage, and children do not reach optimal height and growth.
Small farmers in the area have small plots of land and traditionally cultivate beans and maize. The crops are insufficient to cover the family’s yearly consumption. The soil is exhausted and erosion extensive on the steep mountainsides. Farmers are vulnerable to climate change, which gives more frequent droughts, flooding and frost.
To strengthen food security and change the nutritional situation of small farmers, the Development Fund works, inter alia, with education in sustainable agricultural techniques to improve the soil and to tackle climatic challenges. Organizing and establishing groups to manage local seed banks and select high-quality seed adapted to local conditions, are among our focus areas. In the years up to 2020, small farmers participating in our program will also gain access to animals through a rotation system that is suited for the hard climate and gives more protein-rich nutrition.
The Development Fund has as its goal to increase food production by introducing new and more varied plant varieties, and also by consciousness raising and nutritional training. We test methods and various plants on small patches of land along with the farmers, so they themselves participate in the process of discovering workable solutions and can see the results of the changes. Afterwards, we follow up the farmers when they start making use of the same methods on their own fields. Our approach to improved nutrition involves, primarily, a focus on more varied food production, which will make more, and more varied, food available to poor families. This has turned out to have good effects. Where conditions are favorable for irrigation systems we develop these, so local farmers have the opportunity to water their fields outside the rainy season as well, thus improving vegetable production.