Scaling up Biofortified Crops in Guatemala through Technical Assistance from Chile

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The vulnerability of rural communities in Guatemala is directly related to the adverse effects of climate change, which affects their nutrition and food security.

To increase resilience against climate change and productivity of smallholder farmers in Guatemala, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) helped the Government to strengthen its efforts to develop the production and consumption of crops biofortified with nutrients lacking in the Guatemalan diet.

This effort was supported through technical assistance from Chile’s Institute for Agricultural Development in partnership with a local NGO called “Semilla Nueva”.

The goal of this solution was to improve the living conditions in Guatemala’s rural areas of Jalapa and Jutiapa and overcome hunger, malnutrition and poverty through productive promotion of biofortified crops.

The project targeted the farmers of six WFP-assisted smallholder farmers’ organizations in Jalapa and Jutiapa Departments, with the purpose of linking their production to formal markets.

As a result, six WFP-supported organizations of smallholder farmers in rural areas of Guatemala have adopted biofortified crops, including for their own consumption.

For the full overview of this solution, please click on the PDF-file at the bottom of the page.

Zero Hunger , Climate Action , Partnerships for the Goals

Guatemala is one of the ten countries most affected by climate change worldwide according to the Global Climate Risk Index in 2017. Due to its geographical location, the country is particularly affected by the impacts of climate change: hurricanes, extreme rainfall and increasingly prolonged periods of drought. The quality of overused resources such as soil, forest and water is in decline.

In recent years, Guatemala has been hit by several tropical storms of great intensity: Hurricanes Mitch (1998), Stan (2005) and Agatha (2010). Hurricane Stan alone caused damage equating to 3% of the country’s gross domestic product.

One of the main climate concerns in Guatemala revolves around food security and threats to natural resources. Subsistence rain fed agriculture, which determines nutrition and incomes for poor communities, is affected by increasing droughts and has direct impact on production and consumption of smallholder farmers.

Droughts and flooding could threaten the viability of critical crops. Additionally, Guatemala’s key agricultural exports—including coffee, sugar, bananas, and vegetables—are climate-sensitive and could be altered by changes in precipitation, temperature, and extreme events.

To allow for greater resilience against climate change, support for the nutritional status of crops and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, WFP facilitated a South-South technical assistance project in Guatemala. It was facilitated with support from Chile’s Institute for Agricultural Development and a local NGO called Semilla Nueva (with funding of Cartier Foundation).

The solution aimed at strengthening the Government of Guatemala’s efforts to further develop and increase the consumption of biofortified crops.

Experts from the Chilean Institute for Agricultural Development were the technical counterparts of this South-South cooperation exchange building on their proven experience in working with biofortified crops, smallholder farmers, their families and indigenous organizations.

The approach taken was an integrated one in order to combine adaptation to climate change, nutritional education, and empowerment of women. It aimed at (1) strengthening the productive, technical and market capacities of smallholder farmers in rural areas of Guatemala (Jalapa and Jutiapa); (2) increasing the grain yields of maize and beans and (3) promoting the daily intake of bio fortified grains.

It is expected that the results from the project will support the formulation of a national plan in Guatemala to promote the production and consumption of biofortified foods.

NGO Semilla Nueva, with funding from the Cartier Foundation, provided technical assistance to smallholder farmers to strengthen the overall production chain of biofortified corn and beans “from seeds to fork”. Its particular focus was on seeds ventures and sales . WFP facilitated the exchange of experience between Chile and Guatemala, and supported Semilla Nueva by coordinating the purchase and sale of industrial quantities of biofortified grains for government social programmes.

The methodology built on a blended approach, including:

• Specialized technical assistance from Chilean experts, including a participatory market gap analysis and work plans.

• Local technical assistance to advise the farmers’ organizations on the project training modules and follow-up activities.
• Establishment of working networks among the six WFP-supported organizations of smallholder farmers.

• Linkages with the BioFORT platform : a network of international development organizations, government institutions, universities, farmer associations, and agricultural NGOs that promote crops, which are biofortified with nutrients lacking in the Guatemalan diet. The BioFORT Platform provides support in the evaluations of the crops.

• Synergy with private organizations in developing marketing plans.

Photo credit to WFP/Miguel Vargas            

Guatemala , Chile

Food and Nutrition Security Secretary of Guatemala , Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Science and Technology Institute of Guatemala , Chilean Agency for International Cooperation and Development , Chile’s Institute for Agricultural Development , Cartier Foundation

WFP , NGO Semilla Nueva

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