Rotary Foundation Global Grant 2348177: Building Climate Resilience of Maya-Achi Communities with Agroecology and Youth Leadership
Located in the dry corridor of Central America, one of the world's ten most vulnerable regions to climate change, Rabinal is an indigenous Maya-Achi area of dozens of communities. In recent years, prolonged droughts attributable to climate change, have caused these subsistence farmers to lose 80% of their crop, causing hunger, malnutrition, economic hardship, and migration.
Project Description: Working through trained, local, youth agricultural technicians, this project will promote both traditional and modern, culturally appropriate, low-cost, sustainable, and agroecological techniques to strengthen climate change resilience among 375 farming families in ten communities. Two previous pilot global grants (2021-2023) have shown the effectiveness of key program elements and provided guidance for new strategies.
These key strategies include:
--Reforestation with thousands of fruit and forest trees improves nutrition; provides shade for people, coffee, and other crops; reduces temperature; stabilizes soils; and improves soil water retention.
--Animal Vaccination improves the survival of poultry from 50% to 90%, a huge nutritional and economic benefit from a $0.10 investment per bird.
--Crop Substitution provides marketable products that are more resistant to drought while improving nutrition. Vegetable --Gardens and Greenhouses built mostly with local materials and labor, provide a high humidity, more productive space, to grow a greater variety of vegetables, protected from insects.
--Water Conservation & Drip Irrigation, where appropriate can irrigate many more plants with much less water.
--Soil Management includes training in everything from contouring to organic supplementation.
--Native Seed Exchange maintains genetic diversity and culturally important varieties while minimizing the need and expense of GMO seeds, and agrochemicals (RoundUp).
-- Agroecology training in the use of ecological principles and practices in farming reduces costs and improves sustainability and long-term productivity.
-Two to three Model Plots in each of 10 communities, as proposed by our agricultural technicians, are incorporated in the project. Adapting to a crisis is hard and takes time. People need to see, concretely, how changes can improve their future.
In addition to all the techniques described above the plot owners, mostly women, will be trained to diversify their production utilizing integrated agroecology, and sophisticated irrigation systems. They will also be trained to produce fertilizer, soil amendments and pest control products organically, both for their own use and sale. The intended result is less individual and community investment in chemical fertilizers and insecticides, improved soil and human health, and reduced environmental damage. Local farmers will be invited to view these plots to see the benefits and will be encouraged and assisted in incorporating the techniques on their own farms.
All these lines of work will be carried out by the grant's cooperating partner, Voces y Manos, which, under prior global grants, has trained a team of Maya-Achí, young-adult, agricultural technicians. As native speakers of the Mayan language, they have a deep understanding of the community context and have built exceptional trust by the communities where they work. Regular financial oversight is provided by both Rotary clubs and Rotary Foundation.
Anticipated outcomes of the project:
Scale up training in sustainable agricultural practices to 375 farming families (1,875 people) across 10 communities by increasing agricultural technician staff.
Increased use of organic inputs and reduced use of toxic agrochemicals
Improved income, resilience to climate change, quality of life, and sustainable productivity by training in the practices shown to be effective in prior projects
Strengthened nutrition of households through more diversified food production from vegetable gardens and greenhouses
Multiple plots demonstrate to the community and region the benefits of a more sustainable agroecological approach to subsistence farming
Proposed Budget: $247,000
Proposed Timeframe: 2024-2026 (24 months)
Farmer training and support and Technician stipends $147,000. 60%
Materials and Agricultural Supplies. $84,000. 33%
Administrative & accounting $18,000. 7%