The Central America Donors Forum (CADF) was held September 25-27, 2023 in Costa Rica. Organized by the Seattle International Foundation, the event gathered philanthropists, members of the community, governments, and the business sector to open dialogues on Central American issues while creating alliances to generate change and promote social justice in the region. The Forum involved three days of panels, workshops, and networking spaces to foster cooperation and address key challenges in countries on various issues ranging from migration and governance to the challenges of climate change, gender diversity, and human rights.
This year, our University had the privilege of leading the Building Resilient Community Food Systems in Central America panel, moderated by Javier Artiñano (‘11, Costa Rica), Director of the Solutions Development program at EARTH Futures. Javier was joined by panelists Juan Echanove, Vice President of CARE International; Leonor Gutierrez, Director of Root Capital Women in Agriculture initiative; Karla Mena (‘00, Costa Rica), Director of Agricultural Outreach at the Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock; and Carlos Vasquez Hernandez, General Manager of Coopepilangosta.
The panelists spoke about the importance of farmers having access to technical, social, and entrepreneurial knowledge to improve their production, resource management, access to fair markets, and quality of life. Each panelist emphasized the power of cooperation, education, and the inclusion of women and youth in agriculture.
“At Root Capital, our theory of change is that to impact the lives of millions of rural people around the world, an efficient way to do that is through cooperatives and the agricultural enterprises that represent them and are in direct contact with them,” said Leonor Gutierrez. She also emphasized the essential role of women and the data analysis needed to achieve the individual and collective objectives of Farmer Producer Organizations and for community development in rural areas.
Javier Artiñano discussed the work EARTH is doing with rural youth. “At EARTH Futures, we promote farming among rural youth by presenting agriculture as something that goes far beyond primary production to include technology, the possibility of entrepreneurship, and creating new businesses. Using social-emotional skills is something that we consider very important and that sometimes gets overlooked. We believe it is essential for young people to have the ability to stand up in front of a class and be able to express themselves, to sell a business idea, to communicate, and to negotiate. All this is part of a holistic approach to promote farming as a dignified activity full of opportunities.”
Following the Forum, EARTH organized a field visit to the Nutriendo el Futuro project, led by EARTH Futures in partnership with CARE and funded by Cargill. Nutriendo el Futuro is an initiative that seeks to strengthen the capacities of micro-entrepreneurs and producers in the community of Vara Blanca and communities in the foothills of Poás Volcano. This visit was essential for CADF participants to witness the impact of the project on the implementation of good production practices.
EARTH’s President, Arturo Condo, and part of the Latin American Development team worked hard to make this panel possible. We thank the panelists and the Forum organizers for allowing us to raise discussion topics essential for transforming the world’s food systems.