Jeidy always dreamed of running her own farm

April 4, 2019

In Honduras, it’s usually men who own land and manage crop sales. But Jeidy always dreamed of running her own farm. She loved growing food, and she wanted to earn her own income. But she wasn’t sure how.

Photo: Kath Clark/SeedChange

Jeidy Marilú Domínguez Morales grew up on her parent’s small farm in Campanario Dos, a small rural community in the mountainous region of Intibucá, Honduras. She loved spending time among the crops, and dreamed of the day she could become a farmer as well.

Yet Jeidy also wanted a better life, and she wanted to be self-reliant.

Farming seemed like an unlikely avenue for her to achieve that. First, because farming in a steep and isolated community like Campanario Dos is difficult. Unlike the low-lying lands occupied by large-scale commercial farming operations, the farmers here have to contend with a thin layer of soil on rocky slopes, with limited road access to cities.

Secondly, because Jeidy faced additional barriers as a woman. In Honduras, it’s traditionally men who own the land and manage crop sales. Women like Jeidy’s mother do much of the farm work, tending to crops and livestock in between their other household and caregiving tasks. But men are the decision-makers. They are the ones responsible for managing the business side of farming. As a result, training opportunities and membership in farmers’ crop marketing groups tend to be offered to young men only.

There was a time when Jeidy thought she couldn’t overcome these barriers.

“I was going to go to the United States or to Spain. I was going to leave the country because I couldn’t find any opportunities.”

Then one day, she met Victoria Aguirre, a graduate of our local partner organization’s sustainable coffee production training and a leader of a local rural women’s farming group supported by SeedChange.

Victoria had successfully added shade-grown coffee bushes to the maize, bean and other crops she grew on her small farm to feed her large family. She had also recently become the first woman to win the top prize at her region’s annual cupping fair, an event judged by a panel of international coffee experts.

Victoria encouraged Jeidy to take FIPAH’s training in sustainable coffee production. Jeidy enthusiastically agreed, and dove into her training about agroforestry and coffee processing. She even received some valuable coffee plants to get started.

Emboldened by her new knowledge and assets, Jeidy asked her father for some land – in her name.

Jeidy and her father, José Domínguez, in the newly built solar dryer where Jeidy perfects her coffee crop. (Photo: Beatriz Oliver/ SeedChange)

“It was my idea,” explains Jeidy. “I told my father that I wanted to have my own farm and he agreed. He said ‘It’s okay my daughter.’ He did the same for my older brother. Young people can progress and encourage their parents to learn and support them.”

Today, at age 23, Jeidy is the head of her own burgeoning coffee enterprise. She grows shade-grown coffee among other crops, using ecological practices, and she does it on her own land. She also teamed up with other women farmers to sell her first harvest directly to buyers, ensuring she retains full control and autonomy over all sides of her business.

It’s been a confidence building experience for her. She no longer thinks of moving to another country, because she believes in her ability to solve problems and build a good life for herself.

“You look at your farm and you realize the change. You do something and you know that it will benefit you. Whatever you are cultivating will bring something good.”

Jeidy is still learning how to tackle the various challenges inherent in running a farm, but her future now feels secure in her community.

“I will keep on working with coffee for it makes me happy,” she says. “My plan for the future is to build my house here and if I ever get married, I want to teach my children all that I’ve learnt. They will learn as I did and they will follow the path I started.”