Business & Economy

Traditional agriculture aids fight against poverty in Honduras

By German Reyes

Puerto Lempira, Honduras, Jun 8 (EFE).- Working the land is no easy life in the Honduran coastal region of La Mosquitia, whose natural riches form a stark contrast with the poverty of the population, but Miskito indigenous communities hope to turn things around through sustainable agriculture and artisanal fishing informed by ancestral knowledge.

Rosa Haylock Lemoth, 65, is among a group of women in Palkaka, a village of around 900 people, participating in a World Bank project funded by the Japan Social Development Fund and administered by Spanish NGO Ayuda en Accion (Aid in Action)

“Earlier we had another initiative, but we didn’t see results like this, which is a project in which we already have output and we have harvested cucumbers that provided income to our organization,” she tells EFE while tending her patch.

Besides cucumbers, the women of Palkaka grow melons, pumpkins, oranges, lemon, chilies, and avocados, among other fruits and vegetables, using seeds and tools provided by Ayuda en Accion as part of Improving the Livelihoods of Miskito indigenous peoples in the La Moskitia.

La Mosquitia, also known as the Mosquito Coast, extends into northeastern Nicaragua. The Honduran portion makes up most of Gracias a Dios province, an expanse of nearly 17,000 sq km (6,563 sq mi).

And most of the inhabitants of Gracias a Dios are of indigenous or Afro-Honduran ethnicity.

The dominant economic activities are fishing and lobster-diving, the latter done in dangerous conditions and without the requisite safety gear.

Though La Mosquitia is the largest wilderness area in Central America, replete with mangrove swamps, lagoons, rivers, savannas, and tropical rain forests, most of the territory consists of a hot, humid coastal plain where the temperature regularly reaches 36 C (97 F) in the summer.

Many settlements in the region are only accessible from the air or via rivers.

More than 67 percent of the people in La Mosquitia live below the official poverty line and 43 percent suffer from a lack of reliable access to affordable, nutritional food, according to World Bank figures.

In Tansing, near Palkaka, elders and young people have come together to develop sustainable farming.

“It has been a very beautiful experience because we have learned how to take advantage of the small area of land there is (each patch is 1.5 hectares/3.7 acres) to plant different varieties of vegetables,” middle school teacher Darwin Romero says.

The project is farther along in Ahuas, another village in the vicinity of Puerto Lempira, where 45 participants – including 22 women – are building a cement structure to serve as a headquarters and have plans to dig a well, which would eliminate the need to fetch water for irrigation from the Platano River, 300 meters away. EFE gr/dr

Related Articles

Back to top button