Strengthening Livelihoods: Helping Farmers in Central America “Push Forward and Strive for More”

Farmers holding basket of crops

Editorial note: This post was originally published on TechnoServe.org

“What motivates me to get up in the morning is my son,” Rosa Gonzalez said. “It is for him that I have to do many activities; to bring him his food; to give him health.”

As Rosa continues, her voice starts to crack and tears well up in her eyes. “Since I am a single mother, I have no other income. That is my greatest motivation.”

A Pathway Out of Poverty for Thousands of Smallholder Farmers

Rosa is one of nearly 9,000 fruit and vegetable farmers in Guatemala and Nicaragua who learned how to improve the value of their produce, connect to new markets and earn greater incomes to provide a better life for their families.

More than two-thirds of Central America’s rural population lives in poverty. In 2019, TechnoServe launched the Smallholder Market Access Program, with grant funding from the Walmart Foundation, to help farmers in these areas escape poverty by earning higher, more dependable incomes through integration into high-value commercial value chains.

The TechnoServe team provided agricultural training, helped farmers strengthen farmer business organizations, connected them with agricultural exporters and worked across the value chains to make them more inclusive for women farmers.

The Impact

To date, the program has:

  • Helped 82% of participating farmers adopt regenerative agricultural practices.
  • Aided 5,196 farmers in completing the agronomy training program.
  • Supported farmers to improve their yields by an average of 11%.
  • Strengthened operations at 22 farmer producer organizations.
  • Facilitated sales from 3,714 farmers to commercial exporters.
  • Boosted farmer incomes by an average of $422, representing an increase of 17%.

Now, TechnoServe, with grant funding from the Walmart Foundation, is launching a second phase of the Smallholder Market Access Program – to help even more farmers like Rosa Gonzalez provide for the next generation.

As Rosa said about her son: “I want to see him grow. I want to give him an education. I want to teach him many things that maybe I didn’t get to live. That has been my greatest blessing and desire to get up in the morning.”

“Our Dream is to Live Better Every Day.”

“It motivates me to get up every day, give my children a better future, implementing the practices that we have learned through the project: how to improve my production and get better organizationally.” - Inmer Antonio Palacio

“The desire that we have as a cooperative, with the family and with the community, is to generate more employment…As a cooperative and as farmers, I thank all those technicians and TechnoServe too, who came to us to inculcate new thoughts, new jobs. I have gratitude in my heart.” - Otoniel Reyes

“Our dream is to live better every day. It helps us to think that our children have better academic levels of study because as we learn more, life is going to change us. With the support we currently have, cultivation, thank God, will help us reach our goals.” - Darwin Musus

“TechnoServe does not work only in technical assistance in the field, but also works in the administrative and organizational areas, and that has supported us.” - Daniel Accip

“An empowered woman is a woman who helps other women. If I feel that I have learned, I will guide other women and those women will follow my rhythm.” - Francis Gonzalez

“If we set our minds to it, we can all achieve something. Those are the big changes we’re seeing: within my life, my family and my cooperative. We can achieve more. Just push forward and strive for more.” - Cesar Cum Sisimit