Once part of Spain’s vast empire, Honduras gained its independence in 1821. In recent history, the country spent much of the 1980s fighting the Marxist Nicaraguan government and leftist guerrillas. In 1998, the country was struck by Hurricane Mitch, which killed about 5,600 people and caused more than $2 billion in damage.
Today, Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America with more than half of the inhabitants living in poverty. The majority of these families struggle to survive through subsistence agriculture in rural areas.
The situation is increasingly grave due to factors beyond their control, including the food crisis and the increase in oil prices. Paradoxically, government programs are focusing on the production of agro-fuels to the detriment of food security for the Honduran people.
Both internal and external migration has also increased due to the lack of opportunities for a better life. It is estimated that at least one million Hondurans work in the United States, Spain and other countries for what seems to be the last chance to provide for their families.
Heifer's Work in Honduras
In 1978, Heifer International began operations in Honduras with a food program based on donating dairy goats to poor rural families, sending the first shipment of goats in 1979, followed by other shipments in 1981 and 1984. At the same time, Heifer sent other animals such as rabbits, ducks, sheep and donkeys, extending the program to 60 communities located in four regions of the country.
During the following years and to this day, agreements with various partners (grassroots organizations, microenterprises and non-governmental organizations) have pursued rural programs with livestock, agroecological and entrepreneurial components. Based on the prior experience of introducing animals for small, integrated farms, Heifer Honduras has expanded its efforts to take assistance to 6,000 families in 300 rural communities distributed among 15 departments.
The Heifer Honduras program is an affiliate of Heifer International, based in little Rock, Arkansas, USA. It was legally constituted and recognized in Honduras in March 2003 by the Ministry of Governance and Justice.
In Honduras, the main office is located in the city of Tegucigalpa, and is responsible for coordination, monitoring, representation and administration. Two zonal offices have also been established, one in western Honduras, in the city of Santa Rosa de Copán and the other in the southern zone, in the city of Choluteca. Both offices provide technical, administrative and financial support for the projects implemented in each zone of intervention.
Key Services Heifer Provides:
Sustainable agricultural production: Agroecology
Post-harvest management and processing: Production diversification and sale of surplus to generate wealth, revolving loan funds; allternative dairy and crop processing
Market development: Micro-enterprise support and development, support bringing produce and products to market
Technology: Irrigation systems, fertilizer generators, veterinary medicine, biogas
Nutrition: Increase access to mother and child health care services, improve general nutrition, promote national food security policies
See where Heifer is working around the world to end hunger.
Celebrating Passing on the Gift at Concepción de María In early October 2013, the small village of Concepción de María, nestled in the mountain crevices of Honduras, bustled with activity. More than 60 families were gathered at the corner of the local soccer field to celebrate another round of Passing on the Gift. The crew included leaders of the local community, Heifer partners and staff, and joyous family members ready to pass on gifts of calves and chickens. With the lime green mountains acting as the backdrop and silent witness, one-by-one, families took center stage and passed on the same kinds of gifts they had received two years before.
Jonan Daniel is a young, enthusiastic, and highly trained agricultural advisor.
The difference between ingenuity and necessity became blurry during my time in Honduras.
Students in the College of Agriculture and Life Science's civic agriculture and food systems program traveled to Honduras for spring break to learn about sustainable agriculture.
According to the WiLD (Women in Livestock Development) site on Heifer’s Intranet Platform, a WiLD woman is a woman who is “making a difference in their lives and the lives of the families and communities where Heifer works.”
The metaphor of “sowing seeds” is often used when we speak about education. We plant the seeds of education, and who knows what will grow and how deep the roots will penetrate? On college campuses around the country, we are able to see and feel real community change and social action that has sprung up because of the planting of Heifer’s educational “seeds.” But a crop needs help from a farmer to grow to its full potential, and we’ve found that professors of Geography, Animal Science, Nutrition, Psychology, Political Science, Philosophy, and History can make great farmers. Read more to see how college and university faculty and staff can plant the seeds of sustainable development on their campuses and beyond. You may need to get your hands dirty!