Guatemala Companion Parish: Food Security
Food Security Project. Funded by St. Martin’s, to Improve the Health and Welfare of Families at Our Companion Parish San Juan Apostol in Guatemala
This year St. Martin’s Companion Parish Committee funded a Food Security Project developed by Padre Fidel Miranda, the assistant priest at San Juan Apostol in Chichicastenango, and a local agronomist. The majority of the families in the congregation of this parish make their living from subsistence agriculture. They own only small parcels of land. Because of their poverty, their diet is very limited. They rarely eat meat or drink milk. Indeed, Guatemala has the worst child malnutrition rate in Latin America.
Goals of the project are to reduce the chronic malnutrition of the participating families by teaching them how to increase their production of food, to produce more nutritious food, and to produce extra food that they could sell in the market and thereby increase family income.
Methods for meeting these goals were to teach the families how to use organic fertilizers, how to plant a variety of vegetables and how to plan their garden for seed production, how to grow fruit trees, and how to raise, care for, and provide adequate installations for livestock. The planners of the project researched the importance of livestock and found data indicating that the sale of livestock accounts for 60% of the income that farmers earn. Generally, the participating families had not been able to do much livestock production for consumption or sale.
The project, which started in May and continued through October, provided seeds, fertilizers, fruit trees, garden tools, materials for chicken pens and rabbit hutches, and ultimately fourteen chicks, two rabbits, and one pig per family. Training sessions were followed by practice sessions and monitoring of the families’ implementation of what they have been taught.
The project has proceeded well with the families putting into practice what they have learned.
These photos show a sample of vegetable production:
And these photos demonstrate a couple of the livestock installations:
Padre Fidel is committed to continue monitoring the families’ progress in implementing what they have learned. If successful, the project will have improved the families’ health and economic condition and the children’s learning capacity.
The work of the Guatemala Companion Parish Committee involves maintaining the relationship between St. Martin’s and the priests and parishioners in our three Guatemalan companion parishes (San Marcos, San Juan Apostol, and San Martin, Obispo), supporting programs developed by our companions, and visiting our companion parishes. Over nearly 25 years of relationship-building, the Committee has provided funding to support programs devised by our companion parishes to promote human, economic, and/or community development.