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Picture a farm.
You might imagine a flat expanse with rows of neat crops. Now, turn that image 45 degrees and place it on a mountain. Add trees, shrubs, and a smattering of boulders. Picture a thin layer of soil barely clinging to the hillside.
Due to inequality, for many farmers in La Esperanza, Honduras, these are the only lands available for them to farm.
This includes farmers like Odir Palma Murillo, whom I had the chance to meet. When I visited his farm, I struggled to stay upright on its steep hillside.
Two years ago, when Honduras was hit by back-to-back hurricanes, Odir lived through days of strong winds and torrential rains. Heavy rainfall saturated soil, drowned crops, and produced devastating landslides across the region.
But Odir’s farm held together with little damage. Other farmers looked on with admiration.
The farm survived two devastating tropical storms, while many neighbours’ farms did not. How?
This is thanks to the use of agroecological practices and climate-resilient agriculture on Odir’s farm.
Over the years, he had taken part in training and community organizing through farmer agricultural research committees known as CIALs, supported by SeedChange donors and our local Honduran partner, the Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers (FIPAH).
He deepened his knowledge of crop diversity, contour planting, soil conservation, the importance of planting trees and living barriers, and making use of organic inputs. It has been a long road, but Odir’s commitment to agroecology has made his farm incredibly resilient. It is now a lush, healthy agro-ecosystem.
Rural communities, like La Esperanza, are not contributors to climate change yet they unfairly bear the brunt of impact to their livelihoods.
Climate change has increased the intensity and frequency of storms in the region, but implementing these techniques has provided a critical level of protection to their farm.
What’s more, Odir’s experience has reassured and convinced other farmers in the area that agroecological management is a real option to help cope with climate change.