Heifer International's five-year umbrella project in Southern Honduras seeks to improve food security for families in Choluteca, Valle and Francisco Morazán, among the poorest departments in Honduras. Through the project, 1,325 original farmer families from 80 communities in 10 municipalities will receive heifers, bulls, hens, goats and beehives. Another 1,060 families will benefit from Passing on the Gift. The project promotes farm diversification, agroecological practices, local markets and capacity building.
The Godoy-Rivas family has experienced this improved food security just two years after receiving a seven-month-old pregnant cow from the project. The entire family of eight was excited about their new cow, which they named Sardina. "When the cow came, I was very happy," says 14-year-old Ronald. "The first day we gave it some food and some water. The cow got tamer and tamer, and it started loving us all."
Maria Rivas, Ronald's mother, said, "The cow was a great blessing, because without it we would have had to spend a lot of money to buy milk."
Before the family had the cow, the children reported headaches from weakness and a lack of vitamins. Since the family has been using the milk from Sardina, headaches are fewer and their grades are better. The teachers even asked if they were taking vitamins, but it was the milk. The cow gave them nine bottles of milk a day and Maria skimmed off the curd for the children, and boiled it for breakfast before they went off to school.
- A total of 26 families have been able to maintain sustained production of garden produce, and have participated in a small fair held in the city on Sundays. They have been selling tomatoes, sweet peppers, cushaw squash, sweet potatoes, fruits, including lemons, oranges, plantain, and various kinds of bananas, including manzanitos, ceda, chatos and butucos. They have also sold brown sugar and some grains, such as red beans, sorghum and corn.
- Most families now have small, very simple, irrigation systems for constant production. Staff provided training to the leaders on storing grasses for the dry season. More than 80 small maralfalfa fodder plots and 35 small sorghum plots were sown for use during the dry season. Growing fodder grasses and teaching the families how to use the grass for animal feed continues to be an important activity.
- Training sessions were conducted with honey producers. In addition to increasing membership, the group of honey producers increased the number of beehives available for use through skills learned in the training sessions. The honey and their brand are also becoming known at the local level in Choluteca, and they have a number of customers who regularly purchase their honey.
- The project benefited 183 families through the Passing on the Gift process, with 67 milk cows and 1,146 laying hens passed on. To achieve these significant numbers, much training and follow-up is required with the original and pass-on families.
- Agroecological practices to conserve the soil have been implemented, covering 12,765 yards with live barriers, 11,384 yards with live fences and 2,023 yards with stone walls. Additionally, participants have produced 146,232 pounds of organic matter.
- A very important activity in this period was the establishment of the advocacy school, where 22 community leaders have been trained in various tools for advocacy.