“The problems we have had with growing peas during times of drought have been poor germination at the beginning and then minimal harvest,” shared Marta Julia Sen Cojtí, 54, from Sololá, Guatemala, who has dedicated her whole life to pea production with her family.
Marta Julia is now part of the Resiliency Through Egg Production (RTEP) Project of EARTH Futures, EARTH University’s global solutions center. The RTEP Project aims to improve the economic situation of women heads of households like Marta Julia, boosting their food security and diversifying their income through egg production.
“I’ve raised backyard chickens all my life, but I’ve never had laying hens before, which is something completely new for me and for other women in the organization. However, we all see their value because now we can collect fresh eggs every day and eat them at any mealtime, and we can sell the rest to our neighbors and relatives at a good price. Our community only gets farm eggs, but they are not fresh. If we wanted to buy fresh eggs, we would have to travel to markets in other towns or cities,” explained Marta Julia.
An Innovative Model with High Impact
One unique factor that has ensured the program’s success is working with three Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) in Sololá. These organizations provide support in coordinating activities and in sharing their experience in marketing agricultural products.
“RTEP has been essential for me. The different trainings we receive every two weeks help us clarify doubts and learn new things, like the fact that the chickens should be vaccinated every three months to not get sick, how to make homemade feed with household scraps, how to make homemade medicine when they get sick, and other things,” said pea farmer Dilma Aurelia Ajic, who is a member of the CORCI organization.
The program has 70 women participating from three towns, and the hope is that more women will join this new form of community business model.
“We also want to secure government partnerships to establish a more equitable value chain for the women in the program. For instance, we are registering the participating FPOs in the database of suppliers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, enabling them to sell their eggs to schools in the area. It’s also important that this model seeks to involve the participants and their families in every stage of the project’s development, since 94% of the participants have no previous experience with laying hens,” explained RTEP’s coordinator, Dorian Tacán.
Cargill, a Key Player in the Project’s Implementation
The RTEP Project is a reality thanks to technical and financial support from Cargill, which enables EARTH Futures and its partners to implement this initiative that is benefitting many women.
“The partnership with Cargill has allowed us to develop a new solution model to challenges faced by vulnerable groups in the region. This project targets egg production for self-consumption and sale, complemented by financial education and organizational strengthening. Cargill’s support has been crucial for making the project possible, providing technical and logistical support that has added value to the process and enabled us to provide better service to the 70 families involved. EARTH Futures sees enormous potential in this alliance to contribute to building more resilient food systems in the region,” said Javier Artiñano, Developing Solutions Director at EARTH Futures.
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