Honduras is vulnerable to extreme weather events, including tropical storms. Extremely warm temperatures have been occurring more frequently and while there have not been significant increases in the total amount of rainfall, rainfall is intensifying. This poses a significant threat to small farmers, many of whom are farming on steep hillsides that are vulnerable to landslides due to heavy rain, and crops are at risk of drying out in between rain events. Rural households frequently experience food insecurity and continued threats of drought and hotter temperatures will have implications for crop production in Honduras.
Through the World Renew Sustainable Livelihoods Program funded by the Government of Canada, Diaconia Nacional has been working with farmers in the Olancho Department of Honduras. Families have increasingly moved away from the vulnerable coast to the center of the country, putting increasing pressure on the land. Poor farmers are growing on steep hillsides and marginalized land and cattle are grazing the same land further contributing to soil compaction.
Although Conservation Agriculture has had increasing success in improving the production of maize and other staple crops in drought stricken parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, it has not been widely introduced in Honduras. Cesar, the agriculture extension agent for DN recently learned about the principles of Conservation Agriculture: minimum soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotation. This season, Cesar shared the principles and practices of Conservation Agriculture with communities and asked for volunteer farmers who would like to try it on a portion of their land this year.
One farmer who gave it a try was Hermana Candida Salinas, who reported that the land preparation took 15 days in order to dig the holes and apply compost, whilst the normal time for preparation of a field that size would be 5 days. When asked if it was worth all the effort, she pointed to a section of the field that was stunted and moisture stressed. She explained that the section of the field where she had dug basins and utilized compost, the plants were healthy, but the other section was a control where she did not use holes or place compost. The results were obvious and she explained that it was worth the effort. She plans on expanding the number of basins she has dug to a quarter manzana next year.
The use of soil conservation methods such as Conservation Agriculture practices and the use of Green Manure Cover Crops is helping farmers restore compacted, infertile soil and as farmers expand their practice of soil conservation practices they will be better able to withstand the effects of climate change on their agriculture production.
With your support, World Renew and Diaconia Nacional can impact the lives of even more farming families.