Since its inception in 2001, the Ford Environmental Grants program has contributed more than $1.9 million to hundreds of environmental projects in Central America and the Caribbean, focusing on four categories: biodiversity conservation and restoration, food security, waste management, and renewable energy. In 2022, Ford selected EARTH Futures (EF), EARTH University’s global solutions center, for its proposal to purchase equipment for field data collection, provide training for farmers and students, and purchase supplies for farmers to improve their production systems based on their specific needs.
Through this program, supples were purchased to assist 15 vegetable growers in the Hojancha, Nicoya, and Nandayure areas of the Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The materials were used to build micro-tunnels to improve production capacity during the winter season when excessive rainfall often leads to greater losses due to the spread of diseases. These farmers also benefited from a hands-on workshop led by specialist Luis Jiménez Carrillo of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, who frequently provides training.
“The tunnels are essential because they neutralize the sun’s rays that shine directly on the plants, which is good because I have seen that without the tunnels, the sun’s intensity harms the plants. Now, the tomatoes and lettuce stay cool, it is much neater, and there is more control over weeds and pests,” said Yorleni García Montes a farmer who benefited from building the micro-tunnels.
The new equipment is also being used by other farmers with whom Earth Futures works. Moisture meters, soil electrical conductivity meters, GPS equipment, and hygrometers are being used to generate information in the field that allows farmers to make decisions to better manage their resources, land, and crops.
In addition, since 2022 the Earth Futures team has enabled training for young people from five professional technical colleges (CTPs) in agricultural specialties. Besides participating in a program focused on precision agriculture, these young people have received further training in entrepreneurship and socioemotional skills to become the agricultural leaders needed for the future.
“I think it is important for young people to go into agriculture because, without farmers, there is no food. Students need to be inspired from the time they are in school to become agricultural engineers and study for a similar career. In training, we are learning about precision agriculture, which I believe is the agriculture of the future because it helps us to make accurate decisions to understand the soil and achieve good crop performance,” said Jean Pablo Moya, one of the students in training at CTP Pococí.
We thank Ford Environmental Grants for joining us in our mission and for promoting agriculture of the future.