Innovative Solutions to create Sustainability, and help reduce Poverty and Malnutrition in Chajmaic, Guatemala
Making Progress . . .
Since its inception as a nonprofit in 2018, Sowing Opportunities has partnered with the indigenous, remote village of Chajmaic, Guatemala to assess needs and explore agricultural solutions.
In 2020 and 2021, we delivered emergency relief during the natural disasters from the recent hurricanes and the COVID pandemic.
Now, in 2022, we have a pilot project of mini-greenhouses for 30 dedicated families, and soon to be 60 families, in the village.
In August 2022, Sowing Opportunities’ agricultural engineer and project manager returned to the village of Chajmaic and learned that two neighboring villages had heard about the successes and want to have greenhouse agriculture.
The Sowing Opportunities team met with the leadership (the “COCODE“) of these two villages to explain the process and gain buy-in.
How did we get here?
- In 2015 Ricardo San José Roca and agricultural engineer Antonio Longo Arcia traveled to Chajmaic and took soil samples. Antonio determined that the soil was too rocky to grow any vegetables except Tabasco chili (peppers).
- Over the years they have been doing field research. They met with the municipal and village leadership, local landowners, and also visited a Tabasco chili (peppers) plantation in the department of Petén.
- They identified a USAID-funded family farm in Nicaragua to model a plan after¹.
- In 2017, a major water project, Water for Life, was undertaken with the collaboration of the then municipal mayor².
- These had been the only focus for Sowing Opportunities before the pandemic. In March 2020, we started to send groceries to feed families suffering unemployment.
- In August 2020 Ricardo and Antonio traveled to Chajmaic to do a need assessment of over 70 families³ .
- At the end of 2021, our agricultural engineer Federico Arriola Cuéllar arranged his 2022 schedule to start Phase 1 of the Sol y Tierra Greenhouse Farming project.
¹ Tabasco Chili Documentary – Enterprise and Employment, Nicaragua, https://youtu.be/ZRhCj2WDiIw
² Details: https://www.sowingops.org/en/our-projects/water-for-life-project
³ Details: https://www.sowingops.org/en/our-projects/greenhouse-workshop-project
What are we working on now?
Budget available at this link.
Phase 1A: Pilot project with individual greenhouses (2022)
Phase 1B: Pilot Project Extension (2023)
- 30 families (10% of the village of Chajmaic) participated in phase 1, beginning in March 2022; they were selected for their leadership in the village.
- Each family learned to construct a greenhouse outside their home using found materials and a structure made of iron. The choice of the metal was suggested to withstand the persistent rain in the region that would deteriorate wood.
- The agricultural engineer worked with the families for two months (March-May 2022) to do a current needs assessment, select produce they normally consume, such as corn, quilete, onions, cabbage and celery, which can also be sold in the marketplace to develop their economy.
- During the first two weeks, the agricultural engineer set up a school that was attended by one member of each of the 30 participating families. He taught them how to do greenhouse farming and how to maintain the greenhouses, using techniques that do not require literacy or numeracy.
- In August 2022, the agricultural engineer returned to ensure that the families were growing their vegetables well, to guide them, and to provide additional seedlings and seeds and soil. At each visit, Sowing Opportunities’ project manager came to support the project and to transport necessary supplies.
- This process will be repeated with a new group of 30 families (now 20% of the village) in January 2023.
Phase 2: Water Filtration (2023-24)
Phase 3: Community Greenhouse (2024)