Recipe for regeneration in Honduras

August 25, 2017

Then and now: for more than a decade, Isidora Garcia has been doing amazing work around sustainable agriculture in her community.

Isidora Garcia, farmer research team leader, with a bag of Bokashi compost. (Photo: Faris Ahmed/SeedChange)

The vibrancy and health of many tropical environments is built on a foundation of rich volcanic earth. But with the introduction of large-scale plantation agriculture on Honduras’s lowland plains in the 1800s, the majority of the country’s farmers have retreated onto mountain hillsides and thinner soils. Over time, higher concentrations of people forced to farm this steep terrain, often with synthetic inputs, progressively sucked the land dry of more and more essential nutrients.

Ten years ago, a new, natural prescription for fertility was needed, so our partner, FIPAH, introduced bokashi – an ingenious, fast-acting composting formula based on fermentation – to several of its farmer research teams (CIALs). Isidora Garcia was among the first to try it out, using a recipe of readily available ingredients: yeast, manure, coffee bean skins, leguminous tree leaves, cooking ash, simple molasses made from sugar cane, and water.

“This recipe worked so well that farmers would come to us wanting to buy it,” Isidora, then leader of her area’s CIAL, reported at the time.

So they launched a small business, bagging the compost and selling it. They had soon earned enough money to start a second promising small business – roasting and grinding coffee.

As profits from the sale of both coffee and organic fertilizer came in, the farmer group was able to do something almost unheard of in a country where land ownership is reserved for a select few: the CIAL was able to buy a plot of land.

“Land is very difficult to purchase here,” Isadora told us with pride. “It is such an achievement!”

Ten years on, Isidora is still working with our partner in Honduras.

She’s a program facilitator now, and passing her skills on to new groups of farmers and it’s clear that sparkle of pride in her work is still there. Here she is as she spots herself in a recent SeedChange publication about our Seeds of Survival program.