Guatemala is one of the most diverse countries in Central America, with mountains, volcanoes, and beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans and mountains. However, nearly half of the population lives in rural areas, facing challenges such as inequality and poverty, with smallholder farming playing a vital role to secure income and livelihood.
From the country’s hills, three associations were selected to participate in the Mountain Innovation Programme, funded by the United Nations Development Program and the Mountain Partnership.
Alongside Lesotho, Nepal and Rwanda, they receive technical assistance from Slow Food to build strong and resilient communities as they practice sustainable production and value chain improvement.
The project varies from country to country, as it is designed according to its conditions and needs. A key step is to conduct an in-depth mapping of each smallholder product and their practices. This takes into account their history, topography, access to supplies, market presence, sustainability, etc., to cover every aspect of their practices, including entrepreneurial opportunities, and markets that will value and value their work.
Label to distinguish their hard work
For these Guatemalan producers, besides receiving training in various aspects aimed at promoting sustainable practices and their resilience, one alternative to improving and gaining recognition is to name a narrative. By applying to become an MPP, each product will have access to a marketing expert provided by FAO and, in collaboration with Slow Food and the United Nations Development Programme, will be able to develop a narrative poster. This option allows consumers to make an informed decision as it helps producers communicate, such as origin, method of production, biodiversity information and storage tips, among others.
Part of the advantage of this label is that it does not require additional cost like other types of certificates, and it is updated annually followed by agreements to maintain good, clean and fair production. In the case of these select producers, their product narrative label bears the Slow Food, Mountain Partnership, and UNDP stamp to support their efforts. Finally, this allows them to differentiate their business from others in the market.
Each of these producers makes a difference in their community and has strong stories and connections to their land and culture. The appointment showed that they do not have a web presence, and some rely on a single customer to distribute their products.
Their history is worth telling, let’s meet some of them.
- Las Brisas Caserío Primavera Beekeepers Association – ASABRICAP
This association was established in 2010 as a women’s group aiming to diversify income through family gardening, cooking, soil conservation and reforestation. Eventually they opened their group to the participation of men and expanded to the practice of beekeeping,
- Association of Women Entrepreneurs for Integrated Development Esquipulense
70 women started this pastoral group in 1998 to address motivational and intra-family issues. Over time they received craft and agricultural formations and became a productive group to improve the family’s economics in society.
17 women are engaged in the production of tomatoes and hot peppers. They also have a rainwater harvesting system for irrigation, and for pest control they use cinnamon, ginger, rota, laurel, hot pepper, ash, fermented pepper, garlic, onions. And for soil health, they plan rota, basil, cilantro, lettuce, onions, and spinach.
This group was also responsible for gathering the ancestral knowledge of the elderly women to work the land.
- The Holistic Agricultural Cooperative Women with the Essence of Coffee, RL CIAMUJESCA, RL
These women’s associations have been operating since 2015, using the terrain they had inherited from a family that left the country or found different means of making a living, giving them an opportunity to make a living through coffee.
Eventually, they expanded their production to include poultry as a supplemental income.
This cooperative aims to support the empowerment of women in decision-making within their communities, and economic development, particularly through the marketing of coffee.
- Association for Integrated Development Flor de Boca Costa (ADIFBOC)
The Back Schweik community is an example of resilience. In 2005 Storm Stan caused slides that affected its production, including its fertile soil, leaving behind unstable terrain. They worked to recover from it, even winning the award for best honey production in the country.
Each one has a profile created after mapping, and a plan according to their unique characteristics, from good practices, to financing, empowerment and prevention of violence against women, business supplies, to branding and direction to creating their own.
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