Farmers on the steep hillsides of the Honduran countryside are proving to be skilled plant scientists. With the initial support of a university plant breeder, groups of farmer-researchers (called CIALS) have mastered the science of breeding, successfully developing bean and corn varieties that can handle the challenges of farming in the world’s third most disaster-prone country.
Farm families participating in the program are using organic and watershed management approaches, making and integrating natural fertilizers and pesticides, and introducing greater crop diversity in their fields. As a result, they have managed to dramatically reduce what the locals call los Junios – the hunger days. Los Junios have dropped from an average of 5.6 weeks per year to less than a week.
The program is supported by the Foundation for Participatory Research (FIPAH) with Honduran Farmers, USC Canada and Guelph University.
- Humphries, Sally, O. Gallardo, J. Jiménez and F. Sierra with members of the Association of CIALs of Yorito, Sulaco and Victoria. (2005). Linking small farmers to the formal research sector: Lessons from a participatory plant breeding programme in Honduras. Agricultural Research and Extension Network (AGREN) Network Paper, 142. Retrieved from odi.org.uk
- Almekinders, C.J.M., S. Humphries and A. von Lossau. (2008). The effectiveness of participatory plant breeding as a tool to capitalize on agrobiodiversity in developing countries. Biodiversity, 9 (1&2), 41-44.
- Walsh, S. (2010, Jan.). Participation up, hunger down. Retrieved from usc-canada.org
- Fundación para la Investigación Participativa con Agricultores de Honduras, FIPA. (2012). Retrieved from fipah.org