U.S.-funded programs in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras help farmers expand and diversify their operations, enabling them to provide for their families and feed more people in their home countries.
Up to 4 million people need food assistance across those three countries, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.
Some families there lost their homes or livelihoods during devastating 2020 hurricanes. The COVID-19 pandemic further limited options. These and other factors drove many to make the dangerous decision to migrate irregularly.
The U.S. government’s plan to address the root causes of irregular migration involves, in part, bolstering food assistance and creating greater economic opportunities in northern Central America, specifically Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Here are some of the ways U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs help boost farmers’ incomes and tackle food insecurity in their home countries.
With USAID’s support, more than 1,500 farmers in the Western Highlands of Guatemala added Hass avocados to their farms through Feed the Future, a USAID initiative to combat global hunger.
Every year, the Feed the Future–supported project known as PROINNOVA offers farmers who buy a new avocado plant a second one free, donated by Popoyán, a Guatemalan agribusiness. PROINNOVA stands for the Project of Innovative Solutions for Agricultural Value Chains in Guatemala.
Since 2018, Popoyán and partner farmers have planted about 263 hectares of avocado trees. For the group of 1,500 producers, the first and second year of avocado harvest brought in over $4 million in sales.
Another Feed the Future effort helps coffee farmers in Guatemala also produce chickens and eggs to eat and sell. In the last year, coffee farmers’ families have produced over 4 million eggs and 8,600 kilograms of chicken, valued at $590,000.
In 2021, USAID brokered an alliance between JJ Agro and another agro-processing firm, ESSAN, to make concentrate from JJ Agro’s strawberries that don’t meet its client’s size standards. Since the partnership began, JJ Agro reported $10,000 in new income and projects earning $400,000 in additional annual sales.
For ESSAN, the new partnership has yielded an 83% increase in monthly sales, allowing the firm to hire 10 new full-time employees ― all women.
The result: JJ Agro has become the largest producer of hydroponic strawberries in Honduras, with over 450,000 kilograms of product and $2 million in annual sales.
In the western part of El Salvador, USAID helps 1,000 vulnerable farming families learn water-smart agriculture. This includes farming practices such as drip irrigation, which delivers controlled amounts of water directly to each plant through a series of tubes and emitters, and proper soil management to prevent erosion and other issues.
Farmers who use water-smart agriculture increase crop production and better prepare for droughts and extreme rainfall.