Agros International

Agros exists to see rural poor families in developing nations attain economic self-sufficiency, cultivate a livelihood and pass on to future generations the values and resources that enable them to flourish.
May 5, 2015

Update from Brisas del Volcan

One of the goals of the Brisas del Volcán community has been to add value so that they can increase the income generated from their coff ee crop. A group of four women in the community took on this project to develop and strengthen the commercialization of the coff ee crop.


The idea for the project began with a tour to CACTRIL (Trinity Coff ee Cooperative) in Trinidad, Santa Barbara, with the goal of learning about the process of roasting, grinding, and packaging coff ee using good processing practices. Following this tour, the woman had a training session with the IHCAFE (Honduran Coff ee Institute) to improve their knowledge of roasting, grinding, and packaging techniques.


The women started a small business called 5 Estrellas (5 Stars). With financing help from Agros, they purchased an artisanal coff ee roaster to begin processing the coffee grown in Brisas. Their vision is to grow and help their husbands by processing and commercializing their coff ee crops, adding value to it before it is sold. The women are thankful to God for the wisdom and blessing around this new business venture. They are also thankful for the support that they have received from Agros technicians in this process.

Apr 13, 2015

Update from San Jose, Nicaragua

Nicaragua continues to be a priority country for Agros, and we are excited about the regional project work that is under way in the Matagalpa region. Communities where we are already active have paved the way for this new regional work, including the community of San Jose. Here are some highlights of the activities for this remarkable community.

Community Organization:

Training continues with the leadership team to advance their skills and knowledge around community development.

Land Tenure:

New crops have been established. The irrigation district has been reactivated for vegetables, passion fruit, and achiote. New planting techniques are being used, including: contour plowing, construction of dikes, and hedge rows.

Economic Development:

  • New crops were established, including: peppers, vegetables, yellow passion fruit, and achiote
  • Crop yields were negatively impacted by a virus transmitted by the white fly. Agronomists are working with the partners on how to deal with this pest.
  • Crops were sold in both the formal (Hortifruti) and informal market, including: 5,275 sweet Nathalie peppers, 3,724 pounds of jalapeño peppers, and 1,963 dozen Chiltoma peppers.
  • Training in modern agricultural techniques was held, with 24 men and 4 women participating.
  • A training exchange was held with the Matagalpa regional families to improve knowledge of modern agricultural techniques
  • Technical training was provided to 28 families in the general management of their coffee crop and in the cultivation of rice
  • Families are currently working with Hortifruti to be able to sell their passion fruit


Community Health and Well-Being:

  • 93% of the families participated in a parent school. Topics included family relationships, joint decision making, and respect.
  • Revolving credit funds were used for boots, machetes, school supplies, and medications
  • 25 families participated in growth groups
  • 41 children are involved in preschool or primary school
  • Community leadership training was held with six members of the board. Work focused on community planning, roles and responsibilities, and leadership activities
  • Staff worked with families on safe water and hygiene in the home. Containers with lids were purchased for community members. They were taught how to use bleach and how to boil water to make it safe for human consumption. The goal is to reduce the cases of diarrhea and parasites in community members.
  • Counseling was provided for one pregnant woman to ensure she is getting proper prenatal care and understands the benefits of an institutional delivery
  • One woman who recently gave birth was counseled on exclusive breastfeeding
  • Six children under the age of two are having their weight monitored. At this point, only one child appears to be underweight (a sign of potential malnutrition).
  • Children in the community received vaccines
  • The assembly chose new health leaders. The medical cabinet was transferred to a new volunteer in the community.


Lessons Learned: 

  • Health volunteers need better training and assignment of activities to ensure that the work is being done
  • Relationships with formal markets need to have contingency plans for when there is excess production
  • Each production process must have timelines that include sufficient time for land preparation, irrigation fittings, and supply purchases in order to avoid delays, losses, and increased production costs


Meet Francisca and Petronillo:

Dona Francisca and Petronillo live in San José with their six children. Before coming to San José, Francisca worked as a domestic employee and Petronillo worked on neighboring farms. With a meager diet of rice and beans, they struggled to find the strength to work and care for their children.

“Before we moved to San José, I had to leave my children and go outside the house for work,” shared Francisca. “Sometimes I would be gone for a month or two and others had to care for my children. But now, my energy is focused on my own children.”

Petronillo continues to work their land. He has planted passion fruit and coffee. He shares, “I feel good in San José because God has given us the strength to work the land. I feel so much better than before. We have food to eat. I don’t work for anyone. I know that what I produce is my own and the land gives us what we need.”

Petronillo continues to dream of the day that they pay off their land loan and own their land. “My dreams are to pay the land and keep working for the well-being of my family. I look forward to passing on to my children a place where they can work.”

Feb 12, 2015

Update from Bella Vista, Honduras

Bella Vista, Honduras, is a community where families are working together to make their lives better. While they still have many challenges to meet as a community and as individuals, many exciting things have been happening. Following is a very brief overview of activities in Bella Vista:

Land Ownership

14 partners are up to date in their land loans, 11 partners made part of their annual payment, and 2 members have not made any payments.

Community members received training in natural resource management, including clean water sources and implementation of forest nurseries.

Clean Water & Basic Infrastructure:

5 families improved the floors in their homes, which will improve household sanitation practices and contribute to their health.

16 families improved their cooking stoves, reducing smoke in the home and improving respiratory health.

Producers were trained in the management and maintenance of their irrigation systems, which will improve its efficiency and use.

5 families received an updated gray water treatment system, which will improve the environmental hygiene of the village

Economic Development:

Partners were trained in soil analysis and plant nutrition for fertilization purposes through a program offered by the field school.

At monthly meetings of the community bank, women received training on credit management, marketing and team organization. 

Sales from crucial cash crops such as coffee, passion fruit and bananas enabled community members to afford loan repayments and household essentials.

Health & Community Wellbeing:

Work was done to strengthen the process of improving the health of the community through the school and healthy home methodology. Health advocates conducted monthly home visits.

Training was provided for the promotion of moral and spiritual values through community conversations among adults.

A workshop was given on preparation of wheat-based (cereal) foods, soybeans and yellow corn, enabling families to diversify their nutrition beyond a rice-based diet.

Education:

Women received training in Aztec embroidery techniques, giving them a new skill that can add to their income.

Community members were trained in topics such as project management and advocacy. The members created a proposal for to build a coffee processing plant for the community.

Community youth were trained in reproductive health and STDs. 21 Students received tutoring in Spanish and math.

Making a Difference…

Alvaro Ulloa and Ricky Vanesa Ortiz formerly lived in the village of Montanita Regadio in Santa Barbara. There, they used to work as laborers, making $4.00 a day. Their hopes and opportunities for advancement in life where minimal, since they not only had to rent their land, but also worked less than six days a week. When they heard about Agros, they jumped at the opportunity to become landowners. 

Today, they own a house with all basic services. Alvaro and Vanessa have exhibited an excellent financial discipline. With the revenues obtained from their coffee and chili crops, they managed to pay 52% of their land loan and have cancelled, almost in its totality, their productive loans.

Alvaro is a wonderful example of entrepreneurship, commitment, and love for the land. Says Alvaro, “We are very grateful to Agros. Before, I only knew how to pick coffee beans. Now I own and run my own farm. Agros’ training has me improve my own crops. I now have the necessary experience and knowledge to manage my land, and, with the will of God, my goal is to pay off my land credit next year with the revenues from my coffee crop.”

“We thank God for the support received through Agros,” say Alvaro and Vanessa.

 

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