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.
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:
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
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.
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.
Meet German Paz and Ester Fernandez
German Paz and Ester Fernandez live in Piedra de Horeb, Honduras, with their two children, Dani (in 4th grade) and Lohani (in kindergarten). German and Ester fight each day to carry to build a better life for their children.
Starting over in Piedra de Horeb brought many challenges for the family. “It was not easy to begin from zero,” say Ester and German, “because we were used to working the land in our own way.” But the challenges also came with hope. Ester and German add, “Agros has taught us to use good production practices, which has allowed us to have better yields. We have also learned many hygiene practices that make it possible for us to have better.”
Ester and German have also learned to grow many new things, which help them diversify their income and diet. “We currently have a tank with 1,600 tilapias growing, which are ready for harvest. We expect an income of $2,300. We also have two plots of yucca, basic grains, and white corn which will also generate additional income.”
Ester is overseer of the Women Community Bank, and a shrewd entrepreneur. She began a project with some of her neighbors to make a 4-grain cereal that is intended to improve child nutrition. Soon afterwards, the option to sell the cereal to child-sponsorship project arose. Ester jumped at the opportunity. “I made the contacts with those in charge of the project, taking a sample for them to taste, which they liked and decided to purchase due to its high nutritional value,” she reported.
German and Ester have made a great team, supporting each other and being successful. “We’re feeling great, we have actually produced 300 lbs. of cereal monthly, and the profit is $535, the idea is to continue to increase production, because of market demand. 9 associates as well as I. work on this project, particularly when demands are high.
“Our dream is to pay off the land Agros has assigned to us,” says German. “So far, we have paid 32% of the total value.”
Each year every Agros community undergoes a period of planning. This is a participatory process in which community members gather and, with the help of Agros staff, decide which goals to strive towards as a community. Following is the new community plan developed for Bella Vista, Honduras, organized to align with the main components of the Agros model. (The full village plan is attached to this report.)
Overview Goal: To help 32 families sustainably move out of poverty.
Goal 1: Families have diversified their crops and improved their competencies and skills to manage climate and market risks.
Goal 1: Families develop financial and organizational competencies.
COMMUNITY HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
Goal 1: Families reduce the incidence of preventable diseases in kids younger than 2 years old, and pregnant and lactating mothers.
Goal 2: The community coordinates with governmental organizations responsible for health, nutrition and safety.
To learn more about Agros International, please visit our new website: www.agros.org, or find us on Facebook.
Lucinda not only single-handedly runs the family farm, she is also a community leader, a caregiver to her children and elderly husband, and the community health worker for her village.
Lucinda and her husband, Don Tito (Jose T. Ortez), dreamed of owning land to be able to work their way out of poverty. They had rented farmland to grow food for their family, but there was never enough money to purchase their own land and build a secure future. Lucinda and Don were excited to be among the first members of the Agros village Piedra de Horeb, Honduras. However, shortly afterarriving, Don Tito’s health prevented him from working their fields. While many speculated they would lose their land, Lucinda has ensured that won’t happen.
At a remarkable 60 years of age, Lucinda is motivated to pay off her land, and works hard to see that her crops yield good harvests. She has been one of the most active members of the Field School training group for plantain production, and she has successfully applied the training to her own plantain crops. On top of all of these responsibilities, Lucinda is an example to her peers of what is possible through hard work, training and perseverance, and gives back to her community by serving as the secretary of the Community Board of Directors and a facilitator for adult literacy classes.
She has earned the respect and admiration of her community, which sees her as an example of all that one can accomplish.
Your gift is powerful in the lives of so many people like Lucinda and Don Tito. Without your support, this kind of empowerment would not be possible. On behalf of Lucinda and all of our Agros communities, thank you for your faithful support.
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Grants Manager, Resource Development