Agriculture

Almost all the families living in the area where SCP works are subsistence farmers whose first priority is to feed themselves and then to earn a little cash by selling any surplus. Enterprises include corn, red beans, rice, grain sorghum, cattle, hogs and chickens. Many face the extra challenges of living within a protected forest and on very hilly terrain.
 
SCP has used a variety of sustainable agricultural techniques to both increase output and reduce damage to the fragile environment.

Voucher program

This project supplies tools, fertilizer and other small inputs in return for following sustainable practices such as contour plowing, crop rotation, incorporation of organic materials to build soil fertility, fencing and reduced use of “slash and burn” methods. Ecological methods were taught by the SCP agriculture technician.

 

 

Farmer-to-Farmer program

This program encourages the exchange of ideas between farmers, showing them how these agricultural techniques can retain fertility and improve yields. The farmers work in pairs to help and learn from each other. They receive some fertilizer as well as training in prevention of soil erosion, ecological fertilizers, and other subjects from the local agricultural technician.

Grain silo cost-share

Currently harvested grains are stored in family homes which leads to losses from rodents, moisture, etc. Steel silos, manufactured locally, eliminate this waste. Recipient farmers pay half of the approximately fifty dollar cost of the silos while the Sister City Project pays for the other half. To date, silos have been delivered to 15 families in the village of El Terrero, 18 families in Escalante, 11 families in El Papalón, 23 families in La Chota, and seven families in La Poma.

 

 

New enterprises

Bee-keeping, which was initiated in 2006 involves over 20 Chacocente producers.  SCP worked with other organizations to train people and supply materials for the creation of this successful, now-independent cooperative. The honey is both consumed locally and marketed under a branded name.