Great training video here from Guatemala of smallholder farmers hermetically storing their bean harvest. Outstanding work by Michigan State University, with the support of USAID, on improving the nutritional intake of poor farmers in the Western Highlands of Guatemala (“MasFrijol”). The video is in Spanish, but easy to follow.
Why focus on improving the production and consumption of beans, especially for poor farmers? MSU explains below:
“Although beans and maize were domesticated in the Americas and are traditional staples of the indigenous Mayan peoples in Guatemala’s western highlands, undernutrition plagues the people living in this region, with more than half the children suffering from chronic malnutrition and stunting.
Globally, the Mayan populations in the western highlands persist as the most undernourished population in the Americas and the sixth most undernourished in the world. Although beans and maize provide a quality protein when eaten together, access to sufficient beans for household consumption is inadequate to meet the nutritional needs of the populations living in Guatemala’s western highlands.
Low bean production from limited access to farm land and low productivity from the inability of most bean varieties to grow well at elevations 2,500 meters above sea level—an altitude well exceeded in the western highlands—has made beans scarce and expensive. These high prices, along with little understanding of beans’ nutritional value, have, in the past, led smallholder farmers to sell them.
Pairing the seed distribution and first planting of improved bean varieties with nutrition education multiplies the program’s effectiveness. Because the educational programs focus on the nutritional value of beans along with how to prepare them, households that suddenly find themselves with a large bean harvest know how to use them most advantageously.
Instead of educators telling the people that they should eat more beans before they even possess them, educators are preparing the local people to use the improved bean harvests to their best advantage. Cross-trained and working together, agronomists and nutritionists present integrated and improved farming and nutrition messages to maximum effect, ensuring that the improved agriculture practices and technologies that lead to improved crop yields also lead to increased bean consumption and, ultimately, improved nutrition throughout the region.”
GrainPro, and our distributor EGS, is proud to be collaborating with the team at MSU on improving and protecting the yields of bean harvests by small farmers in Guatemala.