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From Global Fairness Initiative: OUR WORK: News from Guatemala
The GFI team spent early December in Alta Verapaz, in the north-east of Guatemala. The trip was part of the start-up of the Verapaz Community Empowerment Program (VCEP). To ensure Q'eqchi farmers have a voice in local and national politics, VCEP takes a phased approach, first working to establish food security and increased production for economic independence. Hence this first trip was mainly focused on rolling out the food security component and doing an assessment with our partner IDE.
Carlos (Honduras), Sudarshan (India), Michel (Ecuador), Carlos (Guatemala), and Alessandra (Peru), arrived from multiple destinations and made it right on time for the 4:00am drive to the first town of Fray Bartolome. The importation of irrigation equipment was a challenge to say the least. And even though the rough drive gave us a few hiccups, we were lucky that the equipment is so straightforward and user friendly that a quick stop to the local hardware store fixed a loose tire and chip in the hose connection.
Finally, around 11:00am we arrived at the first farm of "El Paraiso." IDE lead the demonstration of the drip irrigation kits and a treadle pumps. The "family nutrition kits" irrigate a 20 meters square parcel, are easy to use, and can be repaired with local materials. The kit promotes vegetable farming for improved nutrition, necessary in Verapaz due to lack of diversification of crops and reliance on cereals and fruits with not enough nutritional value. The irrigation systems IDE promotes are designed for farmers earning $2 a day so they are very affordable. We also demonstrated the treadle pump, which was a success among the farmers as they cannot afford diesel fuel to run other types of pumps. The treadle pump can fill a 300 liter plastic container by peddling for 40-45 minutes. A hose that can be extended for miles is connected to the pump, allowing farmers to have water close to their homes for the first time.