Understanding Farmers' Challenges and Exploring Impacts of a Sustainable Agriculture NGO in Communities of Southern Guatemala


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Understanding Farmers' Challenges and Exploring Impacts of a Sustainable Agriculture NGO in Communities of Southern Guatemala
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Project in lieu of thesis
Perez Orozco, Jose Juan
University of Florida
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Gainesville, FL
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Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Committee Chair:
Treadwell, Danielle
Committee Members:
Deere, Carmen


As part of the Master in Sustainable Development Program (MDP) a Field Practicum was completed in collaboration with Semilla Nueva (SN), a sustainable agriculture NGO working on the lowlands of Southern Guatemala. Through a “farmer to farmer” model, this organization has promoted sustainable agricultural technologies such as green manures, cover crops, no-burn and no-till. The Field Practicum focused on carrying out a baseline and impact study of these practices. Specific research questions included: 1) What are the main challenges that farmers face in making a living from agriculture?; 2) What are the main factors that make a farmer more likely to adopt a technology promoted by SN?; 3) Is there any positive measurable impact of these technologies?; and 4) From the farmers' perspectives, what are the potential risks and benefits of using these technologies? The main instrument employed was a farmer survey (n=146), complemented by participant observation, in depth interviews and two farmer focus groups. Preliminary results were presented to SN staff, and the final results are included in this report. In summary, farmers face an extremely complex number of critical challenges that prevent them from improving their livelihoods; ranging from lack of access to land and fair markets, increasingly expensive agricultural inputs and climate change. Farmers more likely to work with SN or try new technologies appear to be older, have more years of farming experience, have prior training, and a track record of participating actively in community organizations. The survey analysis did not find any measurable difference on crop yields, amount of fertilizer used and empowerment related questions as a result of these practices. It may be too early to find any of this evidence, as most farmers have used them for only 1 to 3 years. However, farmers agreed that these practices have improved soil conditions. Farmers’ perception of SN technologies varied according to the practice. The most widely used practice was noburn/ incorporation of crop residues, which was perceived as highly beneficial with little risks and costs. The use of cover crops and no-till were perceived as providing fewer benefits and incurring moderate to high risks and costs.
General Note:
Sustainable Development Practice (MDP) Program final field practicum report
General Note:
The MDP Program is administered jointly by the Center for Latin American Studies and the Center for African Studies.

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General Index 1 I. Introduction 1. National 2 2. Description of Host Ins 3 3. Regional S 5 II. 8 III. Cross disc 16 IV. Questions and Objectives of the study 17 V. Methodology 18 VI. Resul 24 1. General Socioeconomic Char 24 2. Research Question No. 1: Gene r 29 3. Conce 41 4. Priori 42 5. Research Question No. 2: Determin ants of use of sustainable agr 45 6. Research Question No. 3: Exploring imp acts of SN Programs 4 8 7. 53 A. No burn/incorporatio 54 B. No 62 C. Pigeon Pea 66 D. Green 68 VII. Conclusions 72 VIII. Bibliograph 74 IX. Appendix 79 1. Survey questions lis 79 2. 83 3. Focus Group questio ns used & En 94 4. Chart used during 96 5.


1 Abstract As part of the Master in Sustainable Development Program (MDP) a Field Practicum was completed in collaboration with Semilla Nueva (SN), a sustainable agriculture NGO working on the lowlands of Southern Guatemala. l, t his organization has promoted sustainable agricultural technologies such as gree n manures, cover crops, no burn and no till The Field Practicum focused on carrying out a baseline and impact study of these practices Specific research questions include d: 1) What are the main challenges that farmers face in making a living from agriculture? ; 2) What are the main factors that make a farmer more likely to adopt a technology promoted by SN? ; 3) Is there any positive measurable impact of these technologies ?; and 4) From the farmers' perspective s what are the potential risks and benefits of using the se technologies ? The main instrument employed was a farmer survey (n=146 ), complemented by p articipant observation, in depth inte rviews and two farmer focus group s. Preliminary results were presented to SN staff and the final results are included in this report. In summary, farmers face an extremely complex number of critical challenges that prevent them f rom improving their livelihoods; ranging from lack of acce ss to land and fair markets increasingly expensive agricultural inputs and climate change. Farmers more likely to work with SN or try new technologies appear to be older have more years of farming experience have prior training and a track record of pa rticipating actively in community organizations The survey analysis did not find any measurable difference on crop yield s amount of fertilizer used and empowerment related questions as a result of these practices. I t may be too early to find any of this evidence as most farmers have used them for only 1 to 3 years. H owever farmers agreed that these practices have improved soil conditions. Farmer perception of SN technologies varied according to the practice. The most widely used practice was no burn/i nco rporation of crop residues, which was perceived as highly beneficial with little risks and costs. The us e of cover crops and no till were perceived as providing fewer benefits and incurring moderate t o high risks and costs.


2 I. Introduction 1. National Context Guatemala has some of the lowest social indicators in Latin America. FAO (2011) reports that Guatemala has the highest child malnutrition levels in the hemisphere, over 50% of its population is considered poor, and according to the latest survey available in 2011 only 19% of the population is considered as food secure. Child and maternal mortality rates are also among the highest in the hemisphere (CESR, 2008). Social inequality is also very high as exemplified by an income inequality (Gini) index of 0. 537 (WFP, 2013). ( Gini index is a measure of inequality. It measures distribution of resources, where 0 is perfect equal ity and 1 is perfect inequality). Poverty and deprivation is disproportionally concentrated among rural and indigenous populations as se en by comparing health and education indicators across the country (Bitran y Asociados, 2005). Land distribution in Guatemala is also among the most unequal in the world; only 2% of the population own about 70% of the arable land (Viscidi, 2004). The Worl d Bank calculated a land distribution Gini index of .895 (World Bank, 1995). This leads to a dual system of latifundio minifundio, that is, large tracts of land owned by a few, with the majority owing small parcels of land The latest agricultural census shows that 86.5% of the farms hold less than 5 mz (3.50 Ha) of land while occupy ing only 16.26% of the total farm l and ( Us Pinula, 2013). Agriculture is the most important activity in Guatemala. About 80% of the population is involved in agriculture either directly or indirectly. In 2005, agriculture contributed 25% of Guatemalan GDP ( Fuentes Lopez et al. 2005) According to FAO (2007), corn, or as it is traditionally named, milpa is the crop with the largest cultivated land area in the country. This, FAO


3 this crop is at the center of the family diet and it s cultivation is still considered one of the most important elements of the national culture. The struggle of small farmers and agriculture in Guatemala can be exemplified by domestic corn production was sufficient to cover deman d A s a result of structural adjustment programs d ismantling of state production and marketing support systems occurred provoking stagnation in national production ( Fuentes Lopez et al. 2005; van Etten & Fuentes, 2004 ) Additionally, t he C entral American Free Trade Agreement, (DR CAFTA) which entered into force in 2006, has promoted the expansion and intensification of large scale export agriculture and the increased imports of highly subsidized corn More profitable crops such as sugar can e and palm oil have been expanding in regions where corn was the traditional crop, threatening food security and water availability and causing environmental pollution (MFEWS, 2005; Winkler, 2013 ; Red Centroamericana de Monitoreo del DR CAFTA, 2011 ). As a result, Guatemalan rural peasants face extreme deprivations. Even those that own land are often at the mercy of unfair market prices, rising prices for agricultural inputs and deteriorating soil and ecosystem health. Other current challenges are a disarti culated marketing chain and lack of market information. Additionally, farmers are facing recent climate unpredictability and more frequent extreme weather events (SEGEPLAN, 2010). According to FAO, farmers ne ed access to technical training and better acces s to affordable credit and insurance. Description of host institution Se milla Nueva (SN), a not for profit organization, initiated work in the lowlands of Guatemala in 2008 with the goal of assist ing small farmers in their quest for a better livelihood. Their offices are located in the h ighlands of Quetzaltenango, in s outhwestern Guatemala, while their work currently focuses on the Lowlands (between one to two hours


4 distance depending on the community's location see Figure 2 ). Semilla Nueva has introduc ed a number of sustainable agricultural practices such as no burn no till cover crops and agroforestry. The integration of these technologies seek to recover soil health and fertility, build a more diverse and resilient agroecosystem, increase yields, an d initiate a livelihoods. promote farmers' experimentation and evaluation of technologies ; these e xperiences and results are then shared among fellow farmers and with those in other communities. Their transfer model also involves the training of community promoters who lead their fellow farmers in the establish ment of simple farm trials comparing susta inable practices with current production approaches, assist ing in the recording of results and finally sharing th e results with neighbors and other communities (See Figure 1 for a graphic representation of the model SN uses) SN initiated work with two co mmunities in 2008 and currently has expanded its work to ten communities in the region. Figure 1. SN Working Methodology


5 The communities where I carried out my Practicum are located in the Pacific Coastal Lowlands of Guatemala sp ecifically, in the Departments of Retalhuleu and Suchit epequez. ( S ee Figure 2 for a map locating these communities ) The region is located in the South eastern corner of G uatemala, close to the border with Mexico. These communities were established as a result of two important waves of land distribution that occurred in Guatemala in the 1950's and 1980's. government and distributed among landless farmers. Currently, the small landholders own between 2 to 10 ha of land. The communities are cul turally varied, as some of the inhabitants come from a few indigenous Mayan groups, while others consider themselves non indigenous. 3. Regional Socioeconomic Context The communities studied are located in four different municipalities, which belong to t wo departments These communities were selected by SN based on their history of work with the organization and location. The communities and their respective municipalities and departments are as follows : 1. Comunidad La Montaa, M unicipa lity of Retalhuleu, Departament of Retalhuleu 2. Comunidad A 13, Parcelamiento La Mquina, Municipality of Cuyotenango, Departament of Suchitepequez 3. Comunidad Montecristo, Municip ality of Champerico, Department de Retalhuleu 4. Comunidad Nuevo Bracitos, Municipality of Mazatenango, Departament of Suchitepequez 5. Co munidad Caballo Blanco, Sector One and Two Municipality of Retalhuleu, Figure 2 S tudy Location


6 Departament of Retalhuleu 6. Comunidad B 4, Parcelamiento La Mquina, Municipality of Cuyotenango, Departamento of Suchitepequez Table 1 summarizes the mai n socioeconomic information for these four municipalities according to the Municipal Development Plans created by Segeplan (See SEGEPLAN 2010a, 2010b, 2010c and 2011) the na tional Planning office. Table 1 Socioeconomic indicators for the municipalities included in the study. Indicator / Municipality Re talhuleu Champerico Mazatenango Cuyotenango Average Land surface 796 km 2 416 km 2 356 km 2 238 km 2 -Total p opulation (2010) 83,452 33,391 88,334 50,860 -Population density per Km 2 105 78 248 214 161 R ural Population 49% 73% 38% 78% 60% Percentage i ndigenous p opulation 5.3% 17% 27% 34% 20.8% Percentage living in poverty 38.1% 46.91% 40.8% 60.6% 46.6% Percentage living in extreme poverty 4.3% 5.71% 6.1% 11.9% 7.0% Literacy rate 82.5% 92.0% 88.5% 85.1 % 87% The rural communities studied represent a very small fraction of the total municipal population h owever it is worth understanding the municipal and regional contexts. It is also important to point out that the municipalities of Retalhuleu and Maz atenango are the provincial headquarters of the departments of Retalhuleu and Suchitepquez respectively I t is to be expected that their populations are larger, more urban, and possibly experience lower levels of poverty. Table 1 shows that the four mun icipalities var y widely in terms of their urban to


7 rural ratio, population density an d population living in poverty, largely influenced by the size and urban nature of the municipalities of Retalhuleu and Mazatenango. Indeed, these two municipalities have the largest populations out of the four municipalities compared. In terms of population density it is important to note that Champerico has the lowest density, and Retalhuleu would have much higher density if it was not for its large surface area (90% to 2 34% larger than the other three municipalities). Expectedly, Retalhuleu and Mazatenango have a very high urban population, over 50%; while Cuyotenango and Champerico have a largely rural population with over 73% living in rural areas. The indigenous share of the population varies from 5.3% to 34% across the four municipalities Poverty and extreme poverty indicators show that the largely rural municipalities have higher levels of poverty T he municipality of Cuyotenango has the highest levels of poverty and extreme poverty with 60.6% of its population living in poverty and 11.9% in extreme poverty. C ompared with the national average this municipality has a higher index of poverty ( 51% at the national level) but a lower level of extreme poverty (15 % at the national level) In terms of literacy rates, the average is relatively high in all four municipalities Table 2 presents a selected number of biophysical indicators for the four municipalities in the study.


8 Table 2 Biophysical indicators for the m unicipalities included in the study. Indicator/ Municipality Retalhuleu Champerico Mazatenango Cuyotenango Climate Subtropical Dry F orest, Subtropical Humid Forest & Subtropical Very Humid Forest Subtropical Very Humid F orest and Su b tropical Dry forest Su btropical Very Humid forest Subtropical Very Humid F orest and Subtropical Humid forest Altitude Range 0 600 m 5 m 374 m 0 371 m Temperature Range 19 25.5 21 22 Annual Precipitation 500 4327mm 800 1200mm 3284 mm 2500 3000 mm Soils 50% Ixtan, 17.5% Bucul 11.9% Alluvial, 74.6% Ixtan 22.1% Champerico 7 2.6% Ixtan 11.4% Mazatenango, 9.4% Champerico 66.7% Ixtan, 16% Mazatenango, 7.8% Cuyotenango In terms of climate, there are three climates represented, all of them included in the muni ci pality of Retalhuleu. As the largest municipality among the fo ur studied, Retalhuleu incudes Subtropical Dry Forest, Subtropical Humid Forest and Subtropical Very H umid F orest. As e xpected this is the municipality with the highest temperate, preci pitation and altitude variation. at the area of Subtropical Dry F orest in Retalhuleu and Champerico are very small. Champerico, Retalhuleu and Cuyotenango are truly coastal municipalities as they border the Pacific Ocean. The precipitation is the highest in Cuyotenango, Mazatenango, and in some areas of Retalhuleu. II. Literature Review Sustaina ble agricultural technologies: potential, factors of adoption, and the farmer to f armer movement. Introducing a few but effective su stainable agricultural practices involving farmer experimentation, evaluation and sharing, can potentially initiate a process of sustainable community development and empowerment. Examples of these low input agricultural


9 practices include cover crops, no t ill, green manure s, soil conservation practices and agroforestry Extensive evaluations of sustainable agricultural projects demonstrate that these technologies can effectively raise and sustain productivity and income, while helping conserve natural resou rces (Uphoff, 2006). Indeed, Pretty et al. (2008) found that in 286 sustainable agriculture projects in 57 developing countries the average increase in crop yields from introduction of these practices was 79.2%. In addition to productivity benefits, there is evidence that these su stainable agricultural technologies have the potential to create a more resilient agricultural system. A participatory study in Central America compared conventional and sustainable farms after the disastrous path of Hurricane Mitch. The study concluded th vegetation, less erosion and lower economic losses after the hurricane than control plots on Gimenez, 2001 pp. 2 ). This res ilience may be critical in the long term, as Guatemala is considered to be highly vulnerable to climate change. According to Germanwatch, a non profit organization, in 2010 Guatemala was the second most vulnerable country in the world due to climate change ranking only after Pakistan (Harmeling, 2011). In the United States, the importance of soil health for building a resilient agroecosystem, conserving natural resources and food security concerns are reflected in the Conservation Services). The principles recommended by this initiative are to increase and maintain organic matter, maintain the soil covered by plants or plant residues, maintain soil structure by minimizing t illage, and promote soil life (NRCS, 2013) The agricultural practices discussed throughout this report are completely in harmony with these principles. have promoted such sustai nable agricultural practices to rural farmers across the world,


10 sometimes using participatory models such as Farmer Field Schools and Farmer to Farmer. recognized as a critical factor for improving livelihoods. These alternative models of technology transfer recognize that farmers are innovators and experimenters by nature, they possess profound knowledge of their environment, and are in the best position to critically a ssess technologies and to effectively share their knowledge with their peers. Empowerment in this sense, is the increased abil ity of farmers to influence decisions that determine their livelihood realities (Beaudoux et al. 2001) According to Holt Gimene z (2006), the farmer to farmer movement has its roots in the Guatemalan highlands. s, indig enous Maya Kaqchiquel farmers promoted small scale experimentation of sustainable agricultural practices. They insisted on a critical assessment of the experiments and of sharing their experiences among their peers. According to Altieri & Toledo (2011), there are about 10,000 farming families in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras who are part of the farmer to f armer movement. The movement has grown to other parts of the hemisphere. sustainable and/or organic production systems can empower farmers by diminishing their dependency on off farm inputs, promoting experimentation, and by creating a culture of collaboration, as all of which may increas e farmer agency or abilities to affect change (Nicolaysen, 2012; Holt Gimenez, 2006; Altieri & Toledo, 2011). Beban (2008) investigated f armer empowerment among farmers who had recently transitioned to organic farming in control over their livelihoods (pp. iii), as their food security, health, income and community ties improved. Nicolaysen (2012) explored empowerment among farmers who belong to organic agriculture organizations and found that these farmers perceived that their food security had improved, they spent less cash on agricultural inputs and the trainings


11 reliant and confident (pp. ii) Semilla Nueva (SN), a sustainable agriculture NGO, promotes the introduction of appropriate integrated technologies such as no burn n o till cover crops by utilizing the farmer to farmer model. The overall objectives of these practices are to recover soil health What follows is a brief description of each of these technologies and a discussion of the factors that determine their adoption, based on available literature. About the Practices: No Burn, No Till and Cover Crops. Burning crop residues is still a dominant practice among rural farmers in many p arts of Guatemala. In the area of study, farmers burn crop residues to suppress weeds and pests, to clean the area for planting and to release some nutrients. There is no shifting agriculture in the area and farmers do not use fallow periods because of lan d shortage. However, burning crop residues depletes organic matter and moisture in the soil, increases vulnerability to soil erosion, and emits greenhouse gases (FAO, 2012) Guatemala and Honduras showed that no burn strategies can help conserve soil moisture, reduce soil erosion, reduce dependency on external inputs and increase productivity, as well as imp roving soil structure and infiltration. In Honduras, this practice has been imated ten thousand farmers who have adopted t he no burn practice (Bustamante, 2005). No till farming or conservation agriculture is another important sustainable agricultural practice promoted by SN. It differs from no burn by the fact that land is not ti lled at all, while no burn usually implies incorporation of crop residues through tilling. According to the World Bank (2002), no till drastically reduces soil erosion and water losses, there are labor and time savings, less need for external inputs, more stable yields especially during dry periods, higher profits, and improved environmental management. No till has proven to be highly beneficial for soil health and has reduced weeding competition both of


12 which raise productivity. Documented cases in Brazil and Paraguay have shown significant increases in farm income due to no till systems (Hobbs, 2006). Cover crops and green manures are also widely promoted as integral parts of a sustainable agricultural system. Roland Bunch, a well known expert on cover cro ps, argues that smallholders who have initial grain yields of 1.5 ton per ha cover crops (Bunch, 2006 p p 442 ). Altieri and Toledo (2011 ) d ocument the benefits of the use of mucuna as a green manure ( Mucuna pruriens ) in Nicaragua and Honduras where it has resulted in substantial increases in productivity, reductions in weed pressure, and a reduction in the number of chemical fertilizer and h erbicide applications. In addition to the introduction of mucuna as a green manure, SN is widely promoting the cultivation of pigeon pea ( Cajanus cajan ). This relay/cover crop serves as a same. According to SN, the production of pigeon pea benefits the household by providing additional food and potentially additional income while at the same time protectin g from soil erosion and, if managed properly, increas ing soil health and fertility. A ccording to Odeny (2007), pigeon pea can potentially fix up to 235 k g ha 1 n itrogen It is a very drought tolerant legume that grows well in depleted soils in the semi arid tropics. Additionally, the seeds are highly nutritious and there is an important ma rket for them. Factors influencing adoption of these practices The available literature provides insight into important factors that influence adoption and non adoption of no burn no till cover crops and other sustainable agricultural practices in gener al. In the case of no burn FAO (2012) found that in the dry Guatemalan region of Las Verapaces, there were a number of cultural elements that challenged its adoption. Burning crop residues before planting is a traditional practice in Guatemala. F armers re ally value having plot of land free of residue which


13 appears to signal hard work and accomplishment. Farmers who try no burn or no till are residues after harvest). g term results. As it is the case with many sustainable agricultural practices, there are very few or no immediate benefits. Generally, it is expected that farmers will achieve full benefits from these practices after at least 3 years. Farmers who have used chemical fertilizers and pesticides are often used to rapid results. This expectation for quick results is at odds with the patience needed to achieve the desired benefits from so il and ecosystem restoring practices, such as no burn, no till and cover crops. The FAO study also found that the form of land tenure was a critical factor on whether no burn was adopt ed given that farmers who rented land had no interest and/or ability to carry out this practice As their land renting arrangements change from season to season, they did not have any incentive and ability to capture any benefits from this practice. Additionally, older farmers appeared to be less open to trying this practice as compared to younger farmers This information is consistent with Cochran & Bonnell (2013) who found that land tenure issues, lack of patience and lack of rapid results were the main reasons why farmers in Panama did not use sustainable agricultural pra ctices. CYMMIYT and the Mexican Agricultural Research Institute (INIFAP) (Nieuwkoop, et al. 1994) investigated no till adoption and benefits in the Frailesca region of Chiapas, Mexico. They found that no till adoption is challenged by the need for cattle fodder secure land tenure, increased work effort associated with planting and increased soil pest pressure. Additionally, the researchers found that the technology appears to work less effectively in improved erosion control, increases in soil fertility and moisture retention. On the other hand, farmers reported increases in labor demands, occurrence of pests and increasing costs associated with weed control. In the specific case of cover crop or gre en manure adoption, Bunch (2004) argues that


14 there are a number of factors that determine whether or not the crops will be attractive for the farmer to grow. They must provide other tangible benefits besides solely providing soil fertility. These benefits could be harvesting edible or marketable parts of the cover crop and effective weed suppression. Additionally, these practices should require low labor and cash demands, and utilize land that otherwise would not be able to support other crops. Adebayo and Oladale (2013) carried out an ordinal regression model to identify determinants of green manure and cover crop adoption in South West Nigeria, and found that farm education, farm size, membership of organization and distance from home to farm center were the main factors influencing the intensity of adoption of these practices. Also in Nigeria, Edeoghon, et al (2008) found that increased farming experience and these p ractices. In a review of 23 published studies that looked at adoption of sustainable agricultural practices across the world, Knowler & Bradsaw (2006) found that there were a large list of factors that have been found to influence adoption. The authors gr ouped these factors under four categories: 1. Farmer and f achievement, and awareness of sustainable agricultural practices. 2. Farm b iophysical characteristics, which include farm size, soil erosion experience, and the presence of slopes. 3. Farm f inancial m anagement c haracteristics such as land tenure, farm income and labor availability 4. Exogenous f actors, which include access to information and technical support, agricultural policies and so cial capital. Knowler and Bradsaw concluded that the available evidence is inconclusive on what factors are most closely associated with the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices


15 The majority of these factors are sometimes found to be significan t and at other times not significant. For those studies where the factor is significant, the nature of the correlation is sometimes positive, and in other cases negative. The only two factors that appear to have some consistent positive correlation with ad option are larger farm size and increased education of the farmer Finally, in a study of adoption of legume cover crops in Malawi, Pircher et al (2013) found that gender and wealth differentiation within communities resulted in different groups of farmer s each with different technology needs. Due to lack of secure land tenure, women were not interested in this technology ; and men, who had secure land ownership but were dedicated to maize cropping only, did not find the technology appropriate. Furthermore, Pircher et al found that they could identify three different socioeconomic groups. Wealthy farmers relied on chemical fertilizers and found cover crops too time consuming; while the poorest farmers showed interest but were too poor to adopt the technology due to time constraints. In summary, the literature presented in this section point s to the tremendous complexity of This makes it difficult to identify the key factors favoring adoption of any given agricultural pra ctice across the board However, the studies do provide important insights into the likely factors that influence adoption that need to be tested in specific contexts


16 II I Cross Disciplinary Considerations Through a collaborative process SN and I developed the Practicum P lan, which was carried out from early May to m id July 2013, cor responding to 10 weeks. About 50% of my time was spent in the field collecting information, while the remaining time was used for processing data and information and p reparing preliminary results. The plan included direct involvement with at least six rural communities in the region. The practicum integrate d more than one development sector and cross ed more than one of the foundational disciplines of the MDP Program (Health, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Management). Semilla Nueva's philosophy goes beyond the simple introduction of key agricultural technologies. The organization focuses on empowering the communities, sowing the seeds of endogenous change by providing information and challenging the communities to under take decisions critically. Under this holistic philosophy, this practicum focus ed on understanding the socioeconomic conditions and challenges experienced by farmers, as well as exploring the i mpacts of SN's work with respect to soil and agricultural land productivity and farmers' empowerme nt. Preliminary results were presented to the host organization Final Practicum product outcomes are presented in t his final report. Development Problem Ad dressed Farmers in these communities face a complex number of challenges, which includes lack of access to land, credit, technical support, fair markets, soil degradation, pests and climate change. As a result they often have low levels of productivity an d low or negative returns on their agricultural investments. The consequences are p overty, food insecurity, malnutrition and other related issues. SN is currently working in these communities to initiate a development process that restores the soil health and encourages community empowerment. However SN lacked basic information on the socioeconomic conditions of these communities and also perceived the importance of exploring the impacts of their


17 programs, as well as establishing baseline data for future evaluations. The practicum focused on providing SN with critical baseline data on the se communities Additionally, the study explore d the perception of farmers and the impacts of the sustainable agricultural practices introduced by SN. The potential positi ve implications of this organization's work include restoring soil health and fertility, creating a more resilient and self sustained agroecosystem, reducing agricultural dependency on expensive inputs, increasing food production and yields, genera ting add itional household income, and potential health benefits through a more diversified diet and nutrition education. Furthermore, SN promote s ability to critically assess and experiment with new low input technologies with important implications for e mpowerment and self sustained endogenous community development. IV Questions and Objectives of the study The following are the main questions and objectives of the study. Research questions No. 1: What are the main challenges that farmers face in makin g a living from agriculture? own perception s regarding the challenges they face, through survey responses, in depth interviews and focus groups. No. 2: What are the main factors that make a farmer more likely to experiment and adopt a technology promoted by SN? This question was explore d by analyzing survey information on the socioeconomic conditions and resources of farmers, correlated with their status of adopters v ersus non adopter s in communities where SN has been working.


18 No. 3: Is there any positive measurable impact of SN promoted technologies such as no burn no till and cover crops? This question was addressed by comparing the following three groups of farmers in the survey : 1) those who have had direct involvement with SN, 2) t hose who have not engaged with SN, but who live in a co mmunity where SN works, and 3) t hose farmers living in a community where SN does not work. The main variables which are compared are the followin g: yields, perception s o f soil fertility, savings on agricultural inputs and their application, and empowerment related questions. No. 4: From the farmers' perspective, what are the potential risks and benefits of using the technolog ies promoted by SN? Thi s was explored using open ended questions in the sur vey, focus groups with adopters participant observation and in depth interviews with key farmer informants. Objectives of the study Provide i mportant baseline data for SN programs. This data will also s erve to evaluate the impact of SN programs in the future. Identify impacts of SN programs among farmers involved directly with the organization. Additionally, identify communities are occurring. Understand farmers' risk perception of SN technologies and the factors and considerations leading to technology adoption. V. Methodology and Limitations of the Study This study used a variety of methods to achieve its goals. A farmer survey was the primary instrument used to collect data, but other methods such as participant observation, in depth interviews, and focus groups were used to complement the survey information.


19 Additionally, a field journal was kept to document observations and explore connections among th e topics identified. Participant observation included participation in corn planting, assisting on marking experimental plots and interacting with farming families while staying at their homes. Non structured i n depth interviews were carried out with a han dful of key farmers in the production, current production challenges and their perspectives on sustainable agricultural technologies, as well as community organization. B elo w are detailed descriptions of survey and focus g roup methodologies. Survey Methodology An agricultural survey was c onducted in six communities in the region. The communities were chosen by SN staff based on their location, years of work in those commun ities and similarities. The survey was conducted to collect socioeconomic data on farms and households in these communities. The survey included questions regarding detailed information about farming practices and associated costs, as well as farmer perce ption s regarding practices such as cover crops, no burn and no till agriculture. Additionally the survey included a section that attempted to measure some empowerme nt elements. T he survey also include d open ended questions which provid ed farmer participant s the opportunity to offer additional information regarding the topics of discussion. The six communities that were part of this study included: 1. Comunidad La Monta a, Municipality of Retalhuleu, Departamento of Retalhuleu 2. Comunidad A 13, Parcelamiento La Mquina, Municipality of Cuyotenango, Departamento of Suchitepequez 3. Comunidad Montecristo, Municipality of Champerico, Departmento de Retalhuleu


20 4. Comunidad Nuevo Bracitos, Municipality of Mazatenango Departamento of Suchitepequez 5. Comunidad Caballo Blanco, Sector 1 and 2, Municipality of Retalhuleu, Depa r tamento of Retalhuleu 6. Comunidad B 4, Parcelamiento La Mquina, Municipality of Cuyotenango, Departamento of Suchitepequez Communities 1 through 4 are communities where the NGO Semilla Nueva (SN) works and t C ommunities 5 and 6 are neighbor ing communities to communities 1 and 2 respectively, but where SN had not yet Survey Design and Data P rocessing The farmer s urvey included a total of 1 46 interviews which were carried out drawing from three different groups of farmers in the six rural communities Initially it was planned to include fifty farmers from each group, as follows: Group 1 (SN g roup) : Fifty farmers d irectly involved with SN programs. These farmers are further defined by having received a visit from SN staff and by having set up an experiment with SN technologies (selected from Communities No. 1 4) Group 2 (Neighbors g roup) : Fifty farmers not directl y involved with SN programs, but who live in communities where SN works (selected from Communities No. 1 4) Group 3 (Control g roup) : Fifty farmers not directly involved with SN programs and who live in communities where SN does not work (selected from Co mmunities No. 5 and 6) The survey instrument was designed collaboratively with SN staff and interns. (S ee A ppendix 1 for a copy of the survey and its English translation ) The instrument was pre tested on the ground by SN interns to improve the clarity o f the questions. The survey was carried out from mid April to late June 2013 by SN interns, staff and the author of this


21 report. The plan was to carry out random sampling of the population, but given the conditions and limited time in the field, convenie nce sampling was used. For example, at the time of the survey there was no information on the number of households within each community such as community census nor maps available to assist in the survey logistics. Additionally, there was limited time t o complete the surveys. If given the time, community maps would have been drawn identifying each household. After that, all households would have been represented by numbers, from which the needed sample would have been drawn randomly. All g roup 1 farmers were contacted by person or by phone to request their help with answering the survey. Their contact information was provided by a database that SN maintains. The great majority of these farmers agreed to meet; and the result is that the study nearly carrie d out a census of g roup 1 farmers. Group 2 and 3 farmers were contacted by person by going from door to door, and were chosen non randomly based on their availability. Data were entered in to forms created in a Microsoft Access database. This database all owed the orderly and consistent organization of the information. The data was then moved to IBM SPSS software in order to carry out the statistical analysis. This analysis included d escriptive statistics, and statistical tests such as T test, ANOVA Chi Sq uare and Pearson bivariate correlation. Focus Group Methodology Two of four planned focus groups were completed in two of the communities where SN works (La Montaa in the municipality of Retalhuleu and in the community A 13 in the municipality of Cuyotena ngo) and included a majority of the farmers that belonged to g roup 1 in the survey. The objective was to discuss emerging themes that were coming out


22 from the preliminary survey analysis and deepen this knowledge with a focus on the practices promoted b y SN, and the general challe nges that these farmers face. The focus group lasted an average of 1 hour 45 minutes. Invitation was done either by phone or in person. No economic incentive was provided. A light snack was shared during the focus group. Five fa rmers attended the first group in the community of La Montaa and 14 farmers in the community of A 13. This high attendance in A 13 was unintended and created a logistical challenge, in terms of having an in depth conversation and making sure that all atte ndants had the chance to participate. The time allotted for each questions was adjusted based on the number of attendants. S ocioeconomic data was not collected on the focus group attendants, although there was a majority of males, with females account ing f or about 25% of the participants. The focus group in La Montaa was carried out in the house of a farmer, and the conversation carried out in A Catholic Church the most common meeting place in the community. The origin al plan was to complete four focus groups However due to the serious lack of time this was not possible. In spite of this, these focus groups were successful at providing in depth understanding of the challenges faced by these farmers and interesting ins ights. Based on preliminary results from the survey, I created a simple chart with pictures that identified the main topics/challenges the farmers reported they are facing. (See pictures in Appendix No. 3 ) This chart or collection of pictures was used t o engage the farmers ; they were asked to share an experience that related to one or more of the challenges represented in the chart They also asked about the future of agriculture in the co mmuni ty, the steps that the community might take to encourage change; and finally they were asked to share their experiences regarding the main technologies promoted by SN: No burn and incorporation of crop residues, no till and the cultivation of pigeon pea ( S ee focus group agenda in Appendix 4 ) Materials used


23 included flip chart paper, markers, pictures and stickers Limitations of the study The study drew samples from a very limited number of communities in Southern Guatemala. These communities are ea ch unique with respect to their land ownership history and cultural make up. Therefore the study is not representative of all Guatemalan small farmers. The study is also limited by the lack of previous baseline data that could be used to compare the interv ention and control groups. Additionally, given the possible sensitivity of the information collected, the interviews were carried out with the head of household, not necessarily with all appropriate members of the household. This may reduce the accuracy of responses and increase recall problems. SN has been working in these communities for two to three years at the time of the study. However farmers have only used the agricultural practices promoted by SN for one to two years. Therefore, the chances of fi nding positive impacts of these practices are very low. It is important to notice that it proved infeasible to select a random sampl e of farmers wi thin g roups 2 and 3 (Neighbors group and Control g roup) due to time and logistical limitations. However I am confident that the results are worth sharing and highly indicative of the reality on the ground.


24 V I Results 1. General Socioeconomic Characteristics of the Population The data presented in this section confirms that for the most part the communities studied are very similar in their socioeconomic conditions. See Table 3 for a summary of these indicators. The data is presented for the three groups studied and the total population. Due to variation, sometimes means and medians (medians in parenthesis) are presented in order to convey the nature of the data. Table 3 Socioeconomic Indicator s by g roup Indicator Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Total Number of interviews 40 57 49 14 6 Average a ge (Median in parenthesis) 45 ( 44.5 ) 39 (44.5 ) 41.2 ( 44.5 ) 41.6 ( 44. 5 ) Identify themselves as indigenous 17.9% 26.4% 30.9% 22% Share of Female farmers interviewed 12.5% 17.5% 12.5% 14.5% Share of Male farmers interviewed 87.5% 82.5% 87.5% 85.5% Number of years cultivating corn 27.6 (25.0) 22.5 (22.0) 20.9 (21.5) 23.3 ( 25.0) Average school attainment 2nd Grade 2nd Grade 2nd Grade 2nd Grade H ousehold size 5.79 (5.0) 5.45 (5.0) 5.95 (6.00) 5.71 (5.0) Have family member in the US 56.4% 56.4 56.8% 56.5% Values are means, while values in parenthesis are the medians. Gro u p 1 (SN group), group 2 (Neighbors g roup), g roup 3 ( Control g roup) The first row of the Table 3 shows the number of survey interviews carried out per group. During the execution of the survey it proved difficult to find a large enough total sample for g r oup 1 (the desired n=50) In most cases, the interviews constitute practically a census of g roup 1 farmers in the community The table shows that g roup 1 farmers those participating in SN activities, are generally a bit older than their counterparts in g r oup s 2


25 and 3. This is also reflected in the number of years they have been cu ltivating their corn or milpa On average 22 % of the farmers identified themselves as indigenous. This was a difficult question for many farmers since they are usually second or third generation descendants of indigenous people who migrated from the highlands or lowlands When this group of self identified indigenous farmers were asked what ethnic group they belonged to, the majority struggled to identify it as shown in Figure 3 O nly 44% of these farmers were able to identify the indigenous group they belonged to. I n terms of gender 14.5 % of the total respondents were female heads of household, with the remaining 78 % male heads In this region, males are generally the one s in charge of milpa cultivation. The survey procedure was to invite any knowledgeable head of household available to complete the interview. There was no specific effort to obtain a fixed proportion of female respondents. Table 1 also indicates that ove rall average household size consists of 5.71 people Group 3 (the control group) appears to have a slightly higher average household size than Figure 3. Reported ethnicity of survey respondents


26 the other two groups. Finally, the table presents data related to the percentage of farmers who have close relat ives ( spouse, son, daughter, brother, sister, brother in law, etc ) who live in the United States which is quite high 56.5% However, not all families receive economic support from their relatives in the US ; only 49% of this group reported that they rece ive remittances from their relatives School achievement levels are very similar among the three groups, and in general it is ver y low with farmers having completed only the second grade of primary school in average Agricultural Land and Income Survey results regarding cultivat ed land are summarized in Table 4 In terms of cultivated land, either owned or rented, g roup 3 farmers (the control group) appear to have larger extensions of land to farm. In total farmers have an average of 4.30 m z (about 3 ha) of owned land, those that rent land rent an average of 3.77 mz (2.63 ha) and total cultivated land averaged 4.93 mz (3.45 ha) When the medians are taken into account it is evident that the majority of farmers have smaller pieces of land than the average values Table 4 L and tenure and access to irrigation Indicator Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Total Owned l and in mz 3.79 (2.0) 3.95 (3.0) 5.19 (3.0) 4.30 (3.0) Rented l and in mz 2.19 (2.0) 2.90 (2.0) 5.58 (3.75) 3.77 (2.0) Total cultivated l and in mz 3.92 (3.0) 3.99 (2.50) 6.84 (4.0) 4.93 (3.0) Have access to irrigation 41% 24.6% 37.5% 33.3% Value s are means, while values in parenthesis are the medians. Group 1 (SN group), group 2 (Neighbors g roup), Group 3 ( Control g roup) Figure 4 compares total owned land and rented land to visualize the variance i n the amount of land held Both histograms show a similar pattern of the amount of land owned


27 or rented. They are concentrated heavily in small pieces. Notice that o wned land is slightly more concentrated in the first 5 mz (3.49 ha) than rented land. Both types of tenure have some outliers some farmers who either own or rent much larger pieces of land ranging from 10 to 28 mz (7 to 19.5 ha) Figure 5 shows the percentages of tenure types for eac h group. Taking into account all farmers (N=145) 43.35% cultivate only their own land, 34.9% cultivate only rented land and the remaining 21.6% have both an owned and rented piece of land for cultivation. Notice that g roup 1 ( SN g roup ) has a higher prop ortion of owned land than the other two groups. If we take into account the mixed category of those who own and rent land at the same time, about 77% of g roup 1 farmers own a piece of land. L and renting is higher in g roups 2 and 3 (Neighbor and Control gr oups respectively) Figure 4. Histograms of total owned and rented land


28 I ncome from agriculture is represented in Figure 6 which shows a breakdown of the importance of agriculture in relation to total income per group. The graph shows clearly that agriculture as a source of income is much more impor t ant for g roup 1 (SN g roup) than groups 2 and 3 (Neighbors group and Control g roup) A griculture i s a less important source of income particularly for g roup 3 Close to 46% of g roup 1 farmers obtain all of their family Figure 5. Proportion of land tenure types per group Figure 6. Reported income from agriculture per group


29 income from agriculture, much higher t han g roup 2 (30.7%) and g roup 3 (12.8%). Another interesting comparison is that c lose to 75% of farmers in g roup 1 obtain half or more than half of their income from agriculture compared to 60 % for g roup 2 and 41% for g roup 3 2. Research Question No. 1 : General Challenges F acing F armers A. Lack of A vailable Land In the community of La Montaa the top challenge for farmers is the lack of available land. During the focus group carried out t here the consensus was land availability was the number one probl em they faced. There were at least two important factors clearly identified by farmers: because of the increase in population, and then the industry of the sugarcane H igh population growth was discussed as a factor creating pressure on the land The need for education was recommended by farmers as a way to help new generations make better decisions in terms of the number of children they have. The following quote describes this eloquently: go when they are in break ... and where are they going to plant? ... They are going to say that there is no more land available ... but it ... too many people. The ir prediction for agriculture in La Montaa was very pessimistic There will be almost no agriculture here in La Monta a, there wi n urbanization In the case of the community of A 13 the lack of available land is much less important. While in La Montaa this issue was considered th e top challenge, in the focus group carried out in A 13 this issue was ranked as the seventh most importan t problem. Indeed the community A 13 appears to have more land available and lower population density. In spite of this, survey data indicates that l and availability is relatively similar in both communities. As shown in the following Table 5 average size of owned land, rented


30 land and total cultivated land is much higher in La Montaa than in A 13. When the medians are compared we get a more accurate picture, these numbers are pretty similar. What appears to happen in La Montaa is that there are a few more landowners who have large tracts of land, while in A 13 the land is more widely and evenly distributed. Table 5 Farm size per type of tenure and community ( in mz ) Community Mean Owned Land (Median) Mean Rented Land (Median) Mean Total Cultivated Land (Median) A 13 2.76 ( 2.50 ) 2.29 ( 1.75 ) 3.10 ( 2.0 ) La Montaa 5.12 (3.0) 2.82 (2.0) 5.12(3.0) Nuevo Bracitos 3.37 (3.0) 1.50 (1. 50) 3.51 (3.0) M onteCristo 5.63 (3.0) 3.29 (2.0) 4.85 (2.50) B 4 6.32 (2.0) 6.51(4.0) 7.95 (5.0) Caballo Blanco 4.17(3.0) 4.83 (3.50) 5.45 (3.62) Total 4.36 (3.0) 3.77 (2.0) 4.96(3.0) Figure 7. Total cultivated land per community


31 Figure 7 shows total cultivated land (owned land + rented land) for all the commu nities surveyed. Notice the high variability in community B 4, Caballo Blanco, and also La Montaa and MonteCristo. The bottom of the boxes indicate the 25 th percentile, while the top represents the 75 th percentile. The line in the middle of the box repres ent the median ; 50% of cases are below and above this line. Notice that there are outliers for all the communities; that is to say that there are a few farmers in each community that cultivate much more, or less land than the rest. Also, notice the low var iability in Nuevo Bracitos. This is the most recently formed community, and most farmers still own the same plot of land given to them by the government. B. Sugar Cane The lack of available land has worsened in the community of La Montaa by increasingly h igh land rent al prices, forcing many to farm elsewhere in other communities. Farmers reported increases of rent al prices from Q1,000.00 to Q3,000.00 per mz and even higher within the last five years. S ugar cane expansion is playing an important role in red ucing land availability for farmers in La Montaa. Farmers reported how many cattle ranches (to which they have access to rent al land from time to time) have converted to sugarcane production leading to widespread deforestation in the area. Farmers weigh e d the benefits and challenges that sugarcane is bringing to the region: For me this is a serious problem, but it is a do u ble lot of work ... of our land ... water While many acknowledge d the employment opportunities that the sugarcane industry brought to the region, many also complained about the unnecessarily high requirements to be hired as day laborers These included a minimum of 6 years of primary school and to be no more than 50 years of age. Additionally, a s noted by a farmer, it is widely believed that the industrial wells used by the sugar cane industry (which reportedly irrigate 24 hours a day) are lowering wate r tables to the point where farmers with access to


32 irrigation have had to dig deeper to find water Many have seen a similar drop in the water table in their house well. The issue of water availability is also related to deforestation. Farmers widely belie ve that higher rates of deforestation are leading to reduced precipitation in the region. Some farmers were seriously worried about the situation : come here to spread lo ts of poison (pesticides) ... they take the water from Farmers in A 13 did not report the same land pressures or high land rental prices emphasized by farmers in La Montaa In this focus group t here was consensus tha t sugarcane production was advancing in the region and surrounding communities but it had not yet touched their own community. Farmers hold the sugar cane industry responsible not only for high land rental prices, deforestation and the drop in water table s and perhaps impact on local rainfall patterns resulting in less rain, b ut also there was a wide spread belief that the chemicals used prior to the sugarcane harvest ) is negatively affecting the fruit trees i n the surrounding areas. Th e general environmental deterioration is also perceived to be strongly connected to climate change. C. Climate Change C limate change is perceived in the region as being exacerbated by the advancement of sugarcane and resulting deforestation There was consensus in both focus groups that the pattern and amount of rain during winter is decreasing and unpredictable. For example, an elder explained: milpa with good rain, but it is Another farmer noted: When I grew up my grandfather used to tell us that by June 24th we corn cob?


33 In th e focus group in A 13 t here was a consensus that hurricane Mitch in 1998 initiated this process of severe climate change. F armers in A 13 considered that extreme weather events during 2009 and 2010 provoked severe crop losses which led to increase d indebte dness for many. Finally there was a consensus that in spite of not identifying climate change as the most important problem in the current year (2013) the issue of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and strong winds will become the single mo st important challenge for agriculture in their community within the next 15 years. Other farmers argued that they ar e already facing climate change and that this is not an issue of the future, but rather a current reality Indeed, the survey indicates tha t 64% of farmers reported crop losses in 2009 and 75% reported losses in 2010. The extent of crop losses was very high. From those farmers who reported crop losses in 2009, the average corn harvest loss was 44% ; while for those who reported losses in 2010, the average loss was 48%. This confirms the high degree of vulnerability of these farmers to extreme weather events. As these communities are often located near a river, they are highly vulnerable to flooding. In some cases, farmers not only lost their cr ops, but also many of their belongings as their homes were flooded as well T he survey did not gather enough data on previous years since the farmers were unable to recall the requested information. During the focus groups, t he farmers discussed several w ays of facing the challenge of climate change One farmer suggested that unity among the farmers and reforestation would be key: sted ... reforestation ... God because the rains do not want to come. If we reforest some 60% we will have a better life ... Other g roup 1 (SN g roup) farmer suggested that no till practices were a go od strategy to deal with droughts, since when


34 of mattress, because if there is drought but there is crop residues that helps to maintain the crop Other farmers who attended the focus group arg ued that it is important to think about alternative crops which would be more resistant to drought and other extreme weather events. The issue of climate change was identified as a minor problem in La Montaa focus group, as the lack of available land was the most pressing issue that overshadow ed many of the other challenges. D. Rising A gricultural Input P rices and Low M arket P rice. Farmers widely agreed in the two focus groups and in the ir survey responses that the price of critical agricultural input su ch as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides is one of their top concerns In their perception, t he price of corn has not kept pace with rising prices of production inputs. As one famer put it in A 13: Before when fertilizer was around Q60 ( ) corn prices were also around Q60 (for the same weight unit) Corn prices went up to Q90 and ... but the fertilizer is Q200. The issue is bad pricing ble and we fair. Other farmers pointed out that around ten years ago the cost of corn seeds per pound was between Q2.00 and Q3.00. Today, the pound is sold for Q28.00 to Q 30.00 These rising input prices put farmers in a very difficult position. S ome farmers believe that government officials appear to serve the interests of big corporations, such as agrochemical companies over the interests of the majority, including smal l farmers. O ther farmers suggested that buying the best seeds and best fertilizers does not bring any benefit as the pric e they obtain in the market is quite low. For these reasons some farmers are exploring and/or experimenting with growing corn landrac es which were almost completely wiped out from this region. A ccording to these farmers, these varieties can produce comparable


35 yields with less need for chemical fertilizers than modern, commercialized seed varieties. F armers demand some sort of monetary support from the government in the form of subsidies to offset these unfavorable financial challenges Some of them point to corn imports by the government from United States or Mexico, as well as the financial support these governments provide to their f armers as the source of unfair competition High inp ut prices mean that farmers must have high levels of working capital in order to produce corn Because of their lack of access to credit, m any farmers prefer to buy and use a fertilizer based on sulfat e [(NH 4 ) 2 SO 4 ] rather than urea (CH 4 N 2 O) or a complete fertilizer formula that includes not only N but phosphorus and potassium because of their lower price. Another farmer bluntly argued: Lack of cash apply fertili What is more, t hese farmers find themselves struggling with low market prices, middle men, and lack of appropriate marketing infrastructure. Their lack of access to favorable market s and fair price s for their product s is captu red in the words of an elder: What we do is we ask the middlemen how much are you paying? ... look at that controversial question Farmers are literally trapped profit from selling the corn to larger scale buyers. These middlemen were not needed until recent years, when buyers would come directly to the farms to negotiate with the farmers. Due to theft and crime e xperienced by buyers, they no longer trust dealing directly with farmers, and prefer a known middle man who can negotiate for them. This leaves farmers with lower prices for their corn. As a result, c oyotes are viewed negatively in the communities, as they profit from selling the corn without doing any of the work.


36 A nother farmer put it this way: truck driver does not pay attention to the corn grower ... he says find the middl emen and he should take me there ... The average sale price reported in the survey for 2012 was Q103.42 per quintal (100 lbs ~ 45.45 kgs) of corn. With the reported average yield of 56.19 qq per mz (equivalent to 3652 kgs per h a ) the average income f rom a mz of corn is Q5 909 (about $766 USD) Taking into account only the cases in which data for all seed and fertilizer costs data were available (N=62), input costs were the equivalent of 28. 2% of the total av erage income received by farmers. This percentage appears to be very high since it does not include the cost of pesticides, and all the labor needed for production and harvesting plus crop losses and loan interest payments E. Soil Fertility Farmers wid ely agree that their soils have that is, they do not have much strength left to produce. If chemical fertilizers were not applied, the ir yields would be very low. Elders especially recall that when they first settle d in the region a large variety of crops could be produced within the milpa and that it was not necessary to apply chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Their harvest s they say, were abundant ; most weeds were actually edible or medicinal herbs and vegetables The classic exampl e of this is the weed Solanum spp .) which has been used for food and medicine for generations (Paz Ayala, 1995) Additionally, intercropping beans, corn, squash, tomatoes, and other crops was a common practice. This changed with the introduction of pesticides, especially herbicides which according to the farmers, severely damage s the soils. One farmer explained: Not onl y do we have small tracts of land, and what we have is odern technology that we have now This belief is


37 consistent with what other research has found in other areas of Guatemala (Bentley & Andrews, 2011). I n the focus groups many implied that the practices promoted by SN were part of their own efforts to re co ver soil health (s ee section V I.7 for the discussion o f these practices ) F. Lack of Working Capital Farmers are aware that their lack of working capital is a critical constraint in their being able to rent additional land, and to buy the agricultural i nputs needed to cultivate corn properly. Farmers often reported under applying the amount of fertilizer needed for a good corn harvest. Access to affordable credit was sometimes suggested as critical to maintain ing production levels. According to t he surve y results approximately 72% of all farmers obtained credit in 2012. My perception is that this percentage is much higher, as w e realized during the survey that tended to be associated only with a formal bank loan. Some farmers did not con sider private loans obtained from relatives or friends Figure 8 illustrates the annual interest rate paid by farmers who reported credit Figure 8. Hist ogram of annual interest paid by farmers


38 information. There was high variability in terms of the amount of money borrowed and interest rate paid which is demonstrated by the large s tandard d eviation and r ange reported in Table 6 Farmers borrow on average Q16,970.90 (about US $2,198 ) and pay a n average rate of 29.2% in annual interest. Again, due to the high variability the median provides a cle arer picture of reality. Using this value, the median farmer borrows Q5,000 (about US $647) and pays a median annual interest rate of 18.5%. Table 6 Credit and interest paid. Variable A mount borrowed Annual interest paid Number of observations 66 89 Mean Q 16,970.90 ($2,198 USD) 29.23% Median Q 5,000.00 ($647 USD) 18.50% Standard Deviation Q 36,979.81 ($4790 USD) 36.59% Range Q1,000 Q202,000 ($26,165 USD) 0 156% The farmers who rep orted having taken out a regular bank loan paid an average interest rate of 21.8% Figure 9 shows the sources of credit reported by farmers (N=102). The top source of credit was a formal bank Some 26.5 % obtained their credit from a bank alone. At least an other 7% obtained their credit from a bank and an other source; which is a very common practice as farming families struggle to obtain the needed cash to start a production season. More than 13% of farmers who responded to this question obtained their credit from more than one source. O ther sources include : A n NGO such as Genesis and Fundap Interest rates paid were a bit higher than the ones offered by banks ; but were often preferred by farmers due to expedited transaction time and less requirements compared to banks. A local agricultural retailer. They often offer credit through the so T he retailer provi des the credit in the form of an advance on


39 the payment of agricultural inputs rather than in cash and is repaid with the harvest The majority of f armers claimed that the interest paid for this kind of credit was very low but they did not know exactly how much they were paying. Fontier ra s is a government agency that promotes access to land for farmers, mainly by providing credit to buy land. Since 2010 Fontierra also provides access to sma ll loans for landless farmers who will use the money for renting land. L andless peasants can obtain a sum of cash (about Q2,200) and pay back about Q1,700. No intere st is paid in this program. Farmers who access this program are represented in Figure 8 by the high frequency of interest rates below 5%. F oundations, such as Fundacin Centavo. These foundations provide small loans with very low interest rates, usually between 10 % and 20 % annually Private loans which include any relative, friend or other in dividual (such as money lenders ) who lends money to the farmer. These tend to charge the highest interest rates often between 50 % to 120% annually. The survey data indicates an average of 42% interest rate charged. Figure 9. Sources of credit reported by farmers


40 Figure 9 shows that the second most comm on source of credit reported by 19.6%, was a p rivate individual. Foun dations 7 and 13.7% respectively. Finally, about 7 % used the Agrop ecuaria Harvest Plan, and another 5 % of farmers obtained their loan from Fontierra The remain ing 13% obtained their credit from more than one of these sources. G. The Tradition of Growing Corn Growing milpa (corn) is a critical activity in these farming communities. Many farmers consider that this is part of their heritage and upbringing, their way of life -that corn is sacred. Su ch sacredness is evident by the important role corn has played in the history, culture and food security of these families It is no t surpr is ing then that priority is to make sure that their milpa is prop erly cared for each year. But when confronted with the issue of the market, they face a dilemma. The majority of farmers understand clearly that they do not generate a profit from growing corn. Even though the majority of farmer s have a good idea of how mu ch they spend to grow corn, it is not an issue they want to monitor carefully. One farmer put it this way: down to calculate costs ... So that Another farmer described the situation a s follows : agriculture because in my case even when it does not leave me with anything wife told me: do not plant anymore. Look, she told me: farming only leaves you with enough money to plant and pay, i t For many, the strong milpa tradition, plus the lack of other low risk and low working capital alternative crops of which they have knowledge help s to explain why s o many of them keep growing milpa Th e lack of other alternatives and employment opportunities encourage farmers to see milpa growing as the ir most important activity. For many farmers, growing their milpa mean s that they were employed. Others felt that b y dedicating their


41 labor to their milpa they could sa ve on resources by having corn available for their families consumption and perhaps obtaining some additional cash. As with many other small family farmers in the develop ing world, their main and sole objective may not be the maximization of profit. As one farmer put it, Indeed, my impre ssion gained during this study was that farmers have a strong drive for autonomy, independence, a nd food security; just as previous studies have found (Isakson, 2007) 3. Conceptual Framework A s part of the practicum I developed a conceptual framework which summarizes the main challenges facing farmers With time it turned out to resemble a problem tree. The result is shown in Figure 10 Many of these factors have already been discussed but it is worth summarizing them. I have underlined the factors that SN intends to address in one way or another. I also highlight the cultural tradition of growing corn as a critical aspect of the livelihood system. Factors or root causes of the problem s facing farmers were classified under three categories: 1. Market and Institutional: These are related to the market and the lack of resources like crop insurance. 2. Structural & Organizational: These are related to the larger historical and social factors that impact farmers, such as the unequal land distribution. 3. Productive & Biophysical: These factors have to do with nature and the cropping system used.


42 Figure 1 4. Prioritization Exercise Farmers in the two focus groups were asked to rank the main problems that affect their agricultural production through a simple voting process. Some 14 different agricultural challenges were listed in a flip chart and farmers chose and placed the stickers o n the problem they felt was mo st important. Below is a graph that compares the results of


43 this exercise in these two communities. Figure 11. Results of priori tization exercise in two community focus groups. This prioritization exercise confirmed that i n the case of the community of La Montaa, the serious lack of available land for cultivation is considered the top challenge, over shadow ing other important pro blems The community of A 13 does not see this as the most pressing challenge, but there were indications that this issue would soon become a serious problem. Market related issues such as high input prices, low market prices and middlemen, as well as lac k of capital and levels of debt were identified as very important by both focus groups.


44 Institutional and organizational challenges such as abandonment by the government and lack of union and collaboration within the community were important for both focu s groups and were ranked as moderate priorities. One elder spoke eloquently about this: Talking in good chapin (Guatemalan), our biggest disgrace is that everyone pulls to their own This farmer re called the experience in which many farmers organized themselves and obtained a contract to market their sesame production directly to an importer. The deal did not work out because some farmers who had previously committed to the contract found other buye rs and reneged on their commitment. Degraded soils were identified in the focus group in A 13 as an important challenge, while in La Montaa this issue did not surface. The same occurred with the issue of crop pests and diseases. Farmers in La Montaa arg ued that it is not that they find these issues unimportant. As one farmer put it: In their view, the most important challenges th ey face are those that they have no control over mostly market related such as input and crop prices access to affordable credit, markets and land On the other hand, soil deterioration is seen as something they have the power to change. They argued that their involvement and work with SN was evidence that they were addressing this challenge. Droughts and floods were identified by the focus group in La Montaa, but did not get any votes in the focus group in A 13. Later in the discussion there was consens us by the focus group participants of A 13 that the issue of climate change and extreme weather events would become the single most important issue within 15 years. A few other issues that were identified included the advancement of sugarcane production L a Montaa (not identified in A 13), and lack of technical assistance in A 13 (not identified in La Montaa.


45 The exercise of voting forced the farmers to prioritize the ir major challenges However all of the problems identified initially in the flip char t were very important. The critical nature and complexity of these challenges was acknowledged by a farmer: whole thing as a round problem, it does not have any edges, you never know from where it is going to these problems, these wounds hu rt us all, there are people who do not care, that it is time wasted to try anything. I f we take advantage of this When far mers were asked to imagine th eir agriculture within 15 years assuming that all the current trend s and challenges continue f armers in both focus groups expressed uncertainty and fear for a future with hunger and no land. Overall, the information collected in the field confirms the numerous and complex challenges facing small corn farmers, as documented by Fuentes Lopez at al. (2005) and van Etten & Fuentes (2004). 5. Research Question No. 2: What are the main determinants that make a farmer more likely t o experiment and adopt a technology promoted by SN? This question was explored by comparing the socioeconomic conditions of farmers of group s 1 and 2 (SN group and Neighbors group respectively) These groups of farmers live in the same four comm unities whe re SN works. Again, g roup 1 farmers are directly working with SN; they have received a visit from a SN staff member and have set up an experimental plot. Group 2 farmers are farmers who live in these communities and who might have attended a SN meeting, bu t have not received visits from SN or set up an experimental plot. Through statistical analysis all the socioeconomic conditions reported in Table 3 were tested for differences between groups 1 and 2 in order to identify important factors that play a rol e decision to work with SN and try out a sustainable agricultural practice. T Test and Chi Square analysis were used. The r esults are summarized in Table 7


46 Table 7 Com parison of Selected Indicators g roups 1 and 2 Indicator Group 1 Group 2 Average age (Median in parenthesis) a 45 39 Number of years cultivating milpa b 27.6 22.5 Prior training on alternative crops 72.5% 53.2% Have receive c 25% 12.3% Participate actively in a community organization d 59.5% 28 .6% a t 2.031, df 93, sig 0. 0 45 b t 1.806, df 91, sig 0.07 c Chi square 5.93, df 2, sig 0.051 d Chi Square 8.796, df 1, sig 0.003 Group 1 (SN g roup), g roup 2 (Neighbors g roup) Table 7 shows tha t when comparing the average mean age of farmers in g roup 1 and 2, farmers who participate in SN programs are significantly older. The number of years of cultivating milpa also follow the same trend, although not statistically significant (sig 0.07). This suggest s that older farmers may be more receptive to working with SN and experiment with sustainable agricultural practices. The reasons for this are not clear. It is possible that older farmers depend on agriculture for a bigger portion of their income, a nd better recall when agriculture was practiced without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides; this might lead them to believe that trying out alternative practices may be worthwhile In terms of prior training or received technical assistance, th ere are clear differences. A larger share of g roup 1 farmers reported having received prior training on alternative crops and received technical assistance from MAGA (Ministry of Agriculture). A strong significant difference was found when comparing activ e participation of farmers in g roup s 1 and 2. This strong difference is very much expected. F armers who are


47 most engaged in community organizations and efforts are more likely to work with SN. This may have to do with farmers having more networking opportunities, and their preference for active involvement in this sort of community efforts. G roup 3 was included in a Pearson Chi Square test and the difference was found statistically significant ( Pearson Chi Square 17.678, df 2, sig 0.000 ) See Figure 12. Although it is not statistically significant, the share of income from agriculture is higher in g roup 1 than in g roup 2 See Figure 6 for a graphic representation of the compariso n of the three groups. Howeve r Anova analysis suggests that g roup 1 differs significatively from g roups 2 and 3 when taken together (Anova, df 2, sig 0.005). Except for the variables mentioned above, the remaining variables such as extension of land yield, level of education, family size and other i ndicators were not good predictors differentiating farmers belonging to g roup 1 from g roup 2 Using no burn practice as a predictor A statis ti cal analysis of the characteristics of those who carry out t he practice s of no burn and incorporating residues in to the soil w as carried out for the full sample (n=14 6 ) with the fo llow ing results Figure 12. Reported community participation per group


48 Table 8 Comparison of Selected Indicators using no burn use Indicator Practice no burn Burn Crop residues Average age* 44 39 Number of years cultivating milpa ** 25.7 20 .7 Prior training on alternative crops *** 60.5 % 38.8 % Have access to irrigation**** 67.3% 41.5% t 2.03 7 df 139, sig 0.044 ** t 2.299 df 138 sig 0.0 23 *** Chi Square 7.70, df 2, Sig 0.021 *** P earson Chi Square 8.61, df 1, sig 0.003 Table 8 shows that farmers who practice no burn are older and have higher number of years cultivating milpa than farmers who burn crop residues. This confirms the results presented in Table 7. Prior training on alte rnative crops is statistically significant when using no burn as the grouping fact or. That was not the case when g roups 1 and 2 were compared. Finally, a ccess to irrigation appear to be a good predictor of trying out the no burn practice. This association with access to irrigation may be linked with higher investment and reliance in agriculture and possibly higher socioeconomic status. The results in Tables 7 and 8 are similar to Adebayo & Oladale (2013) and Edeoghon, et al. (2008) in which increased farmi ng experience and training, as well as active participation in community organizations were identified as predictors. On the other hand, unlike the literature, this study did not f ind that land tenure, farm size and education played a role in determining a doption. 6. Research Question No. 3: Is there any positive measurable impact of SN promoted technologies such as no burn no till and cover crops? It is fundamental to point out that g roup 1 farmers (SN g roup) have very limited experience with these practices especially for no till and cover crop; which have been


49 mostly practiced for only 1 year. Additionally, only no burn and in a handful of cases, no till, have been practiced in all the land farmers have available. In most cases, it has only been a small pi ece of land where farmers have experimented with these technologies. Statistical tests were performed to find any difference among the three groups surveyed. N o statistically significant difference s were found by comparing these groups in terms of corn and sesame yields, income from corn sale, amount and cost of fertilizers used. As Table 9 shows, o n average, g roup 1 appears to do slightly better than the other two groups, however the differences are minimal. Table 9 Crop production indicators per group p er mz 2012 Indicator Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Total Corn yield per mz 58.89 (3,652 kg/Ha) 55.87 (3,631 kg/Ha) 54.94 (3571 kg/Ha) 56.28 (3,658 kg/Ha) Sesame y ield per mz 9.50 (617 kg/Ha) 9.28 (603 kg/Ha) 8.95 (582 kg/Ha) 9.23 (600 kg/Ha) Income f rom corn sales per mz Q 5,986.66 ($ 775 USD) Q 5,804.06 ($ 752 USD) Q 5,966.72 ($ 773 USD) Q 5,909.27 ($ 765 USD) C osts of fertilizer for corn per mz Q 1,152.06 ($ 149 USD) Q 1,007.05 ($ 130 USD) Q 1,150.23 ($ 149 USD) Q 1,103.54 ($ 143 USD) Number o f q q of fertilizer for corn per mz 5.04 4.76 5.56 5.12 Proportion of costs of fertilizer+seeds versus total income for corn per mz 27.0% 24.9% 30.9% 28.2% USD $ and Ha equivalents are presented in parenthesis Group 1 (SN g roup), group 2 (Neighbors g roup), g roup 3 ( Control g roup) In Figure 13 the yields of corn and sesame are compared visually across the three groups. Note that the line in the middle of the box shows the median and not the mean yield. The upper and lower sections of the boxes show where 25 % of cases fall. The differences between the medians of the three groups for both graphs follow the same


50 patter n as the means in Table 5 In spite of the lack of statistically significant differences in yields and other variables, there was e mpirical evidence that farmers were noticing changes in their soil conditions, and for some this even had transla ted into higher yields. Figure 14 represents this graphically taking as a factor the s tatus of burning crop residues/n o burn and incorporation Figure 13. Reported corn (left) and sesame (right) yield per group. Figure 14. Comparison of soil perception between adopters and non adopters of no burn practice


51 their soil condition based on whether or not they practice burn, or no burn (Pearson Chi Square 14.17, df 2, sig 0.001) Farmers were asked to describe their p erceived trend in soil conditions from five years ago to now. About 34% of those farmers who do not burn crop residues stated that their soil condition had improved within the last 5 years. On the other hand, only 6.8% of farmers who burn their crop resid ues considered that their soil had improved in the same period of time. Regarding the surveys question related to empowerment, the responses for all those interviewed are shown in Table 10 The questions asked farmers to measure whether or not they had ke y knowledge, abilities and access to resources to have a successful crop. participation. The responses for all except one question were not statistically different among gro ups. However, the overall results provide important insights. The only question which wa s statistically significant asked farmers if they participate in a community organization ( see Figure 12)


52 Table 10 Empowerment related questions Question Disagree know Agree 1. You have access to the information you need to improve your crops and your community. 39.4% 5.8% 54.7% 2. You know what to do to maintain your land productive 21.2% 6.6% 72.3% 3. You buy your agricultural inputs at fair pr ices. 87.3% 1.4% 11.3% 4. You have access to good markets and good prices for your harvest 91.2% 1.5% 7.4% 5. You believe that the agricultural experiences from your friends and neighbors help you improve your crops 21.6% 2.2% 76.3% 6. You have experien ces and knowledge that, by sharing with others, can help them to improve their crops 5.7% 3.5% 90.8% 7. The neighbors from this community participate actively to solve the needs of the community. 42.4% 7.9% 49.6% 8. The collaboration among neighbors is v ery important for the development of the community. 2.1% 0.7% 97.1% 9. With great effort, this community can advance without the need to depend on inputs from outside 36.7% 5.0% 58.3% O ver half the farmers interviewed believe that they have the knowledg e and access to the information they need to manage their crops and maintain their land (Questions 1 & 2). This was often linked to access to local contacts with the agro chemical retailer or an agronomist. Questions 3 & 4 show a high degree of agreement ov er the increasingly expensive input prices and the low market price found for their harvests. Additionally, there is a high belief in the value of information exchange among neighbors. The perception of the majority was that by learning from experience of others, or sharing their own experiences, people could benefit mutually (Questions 5 & 6) Fifty percent of farmers believed that the neighbors of their communities worked


53 actively to solve the needs of the community (Question 7). There was high agreement about the importance of collaborating among neighbors, and finally over half of all respondents believed that the community could advance on its own without depending from inputs from outside (Questions 8 & 9). In summary, it may be too early to find an y evidence of yields, reduction of costs and empowerment related impact s as a result of the practices promoted by SN as most farmers have used these practices for only 1 to 3 years. The nature of these practices is to slowly provide accumulative benefits, as the soil health improves. The literature confirms this, as most studies which have found significant increases in productivity have documented this between 3 to 5 years after the introduction of these agricultural practices. However the anecdotal ev idence suggests that at least the no burn and incorporation of residues practice is perceived to be improving soil conditions by those who practice these techniques Only a few farmers have reported increases in yields and reduction of fertilizer applicati ons. 7. Research Question No. 4: Fro m the farmers' perspective, what are the potential risks and benefits of using the technologies promoted by SN ? One of the objective s of both t he survey and focus groups was to understand how four practices promoted by SN were turning out in practice Specifically, the four tec hnologies that we focused on were or pige on pea ( Cajanus cajan ) as a subsistence/market cover crop, the use of no burn and incorporation of crop residues, the u se of other cover crops such as mucuna, and finally no till cultivation. Farmers wer e asked whether or not they had heard about these technologies, their advantages and disadvantages, and any other information they wanted to share. Group 1 farmers were t he main target for these questions, as they had worked with SN and experimented with at least one of these practices. Additionally, the two focus g roups included in its majority g roup 1 farmers. Regarding groups 2 and 3, the se questions were asked to under stand how much knowledge they have, and if there was any use of this


54 practice among these groups. It is important to point out that SN has not been the only organization promoting these pra ctices. Except for the use of pi g e on pea, farmers report that other organizations ha ve in the past promoted no burn of crop residues, no till and use of cover crops. These organization include Pastoral de la Salud Retalhuleu, Programa Mundial de Alimentos FAO, and even tobacco buying companies. A. No burn and incorporation of crop residues About 50% of the farmers interviewed burn their crop residues, while the remaining 50% do not. Expectedly, g roup 1 farmers have a statistically significant higher proportion of farmers practicing no burn Table 11 summarizes this informa tion by group The difference in proportion is statistically significant Graphically, this table is represented in Figure 15 Table 11 Proportions of adopter/non adopters per group for no burn Status/Group Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Total Do not burn 29 (76.3%) 28 (49.1%) 15 (31.2%) 72 (50.3%) Burn crop residues 9 (23.7%) 29 (50.9%) 33 (68.8%) 71 (49.7%) Total 38 57 48 143 Pearson Chi Square 17.288, df 2, sig 0.000 Group 1 (SN group), group 2 (Neighbors g roup), g roup 3 ( Control g roup)


55 Figure 15 Repo rted use of no burn per group. It is interesting to note th at a significant proportion of g roup 2 (49%) and g roup 3 (31%) farmers already practice no burn. This probably cor responds to the work done by other organizations in the region promoting thi s pract ice, and perhaps to spillover from group 1 to g


56 When farmers (n=72) were asked about the reasons why they stopped burning crop r esidues they provided a num ber of answers shown in Figure 16 : Figure 16. Reported reasons fo r stop burning. Figure 16 shows that the knowledge farmers have a bout benefits from no burn ing were the main incentive s for following this practice. Close to half of respondents pointed out to the benefit of crop residues as fertilizers, while a few claime d that it helps them prevent erosion. Additional ly cash, or the lack of it, also plays a role in this practice. About 19% of farmers argued that they l et other farmers bring their ca ttle to their plot a nd eat crop residues after harvest. They are paid an average of Q300.00 per mz to do this. On the other hand, some farmers pointed out that their lack of cash led them not to burn. Prior training was cited as the reason for no burning by about 10%. About 3% of respondents shared that no burn ing has resulted from observing their peers, and other 3% acknowledged that they were currently experimenting with this practice. Other farmers (about 4%) argued that they stopped burning crop residues because the lack of time, it improves moisture retention and decreases weed pressure.


57 A mong those farmers who do not burn crop residues the average number of years of following this practice i s 3.73 years, while the median farmer h ad 3.0 years of experience (n=47). There is no statistical significant difference among the t hree groups. The following histogram in Figure 17 shows the distribution of the number of years of no burn ing. It is evident that the great majority of farmers have less than 6 years working with this practice. The histogram shows a handful of cases whe re some farmers claim to practice no burn up to 20 years. Finally, farmers were asked about the benefits and disadvantages of this practice regardless of whether or not they practice it That is to say, the following responses include farmer s who practic e no burn Figures 18 and 19 shows this graphically. By in large, the survey and focus groups confirmed that this practice is considered as highly beneficial with little costs and risks, except for a handful of farmers Figure 17. Reported number of years not burning


58 experiencing hi gh pest levels. In terms of the benefits listed, it is interesting that a number of them correspond to the reasons farmers gave for not burning. T he benefits most frequently listed by farmers were related to the improvement of soil conditions, such as providing natural fertilizer (over 41% ) moisture retention (17%) and soil erosion prevention (12%). Other minor benefits related to soil conditions include producing a soil with a better color and making it soft er Few farmers are reporting increased yiel ds due to this practice (5%), or fertilizer savings (2%) ; other farmers were quick to say that they expected to see benefits wi thin a few years. Finally, a handful of farmers claimed not seeing any benefit from this practice. Figure 18 confirm what FAO has found for this practice in Honduras and Guatemala (Bustamante, 2005). expressions. For example, a farmer explained the process by which crop residues become fertilize The corn stalk breaks up and it becomes fertilizer ... It gives Ano ther farmer explained how the soil color has changed due to this practice The soil has recovered its color, its was getting reddish ... Another Figure 18. Reported benefits of no burn


59 farmer described his comparison of no burn ing with burning on his own land: ver we incorporated residues, it is dark; while where ver we burned you see it a little walk you sort of sink a little, while where there is no trash (crop residues) the lso the milpa looks more vigorous On the other hand, when farmers were asked about disadvantages, many ideas surfaced (Figure 18) Over 51% of responses indicated that this practice bring s soil pests. However, survey responses and focus group discussions suggest that this problem is largely manageable through an effective seed treatment. Others thought that this problem would eventually disap pear after the first two years. A sizeable share of farmers ( 22% ) indicated that there were no disadvantages. Except for a 2% of farmers who reported lower yields, the remaining percentage (about 20%) is related to logistical issues dealing with planti ng, germinating and tilling. Farmers reported that the presence of crop residues on the soil ma k e it difficult and unsafe to plant (as many farmers work in the fields with out shoes) made germination more challenging as the seeds Figure 19. Reported disadvantages of no burn.


60 would have difficulty in germinating or developing quickly if it is not totally surrounded by soil, or made tilling more challenging. Other minor disadvantages mentioned were the difficult crop season if the rain is not adequate, a decrease in the effectiveness of herbicides and t hat it requires more capital to run the tractor for two passes of romplow. Regarding the pest problem due to this practice, a farmer shared his/her experience saying, ... all the trash (crop resid ue) stayed there. It has a lot of comejen or termites ( Heterotermes aureus) ... the roots have holes ... we applied us one year in the past when we left some residues there ... to inv ent a new, stronger poison (pesticide). The issue of pesticide resistance for soil pests came up a number of times during the survey interviews and once in a focus group. Over the years, farmers have used a long list of pesticides for treating their seed s. The latest an d mo st (Blindage 60 SF, active ingredients: Imidacloprid, Thiodicarb) However the farmers who were experiencing these high levels of so il pests had tried using Blindag e with out success. This is a worrying sign of the lack of soil and ecosystem health and of continued reliance on pesticides. As one farmer put it, applying doses above those recommended may play a big when we overly apply dev elop resistance ... Some farmers argued that pest presence was normal, and w as directly related to the timing of rain and planting time : Pests are everywhere, the deal is that you have to treat the seed ... when there is more ed and not plant ed May another good rain comes and we plant, and the pests are there. But if the rainy season comes all at once and we plant, the milpa grows and it does not have many pests. The and the


61 concern for the eas e of planting and walking barefoot without safety concerns is strong among these farmers. One farmer explained: We are use d to collect ing crop residues, burn them In a focus group, one farmer suggested that there is a fear in adopting this practice, and th ere is also a very real period of adjustment or transition. In his opinion, what the farmer want s to see is the soil clean, that there is no obstacle in the planting, but as not many people think about the f t let us do it ... a little fear ... cul or example I got injured with Reflecting on the benefits of this practice versus the reluctance of farmers to adopt it, focus group participant s suggested: There should be a policy at the community level, so that t incorporate For many no burn ing is considered a very beneficial agricultural practice. Their problem is that they do not have land of their own, they rely on renting. To summarize there is strong consensus on the important benefits of this practice, while costs and risks ar e generally considered to be low. There is also strong awareness that the benefits are not immediate, but will be seen over the long run. Additionally, in traditional peasant culture in the area, by challenging ideas about the usefulness of crop residues, the aesthetic or cleanliness of the planting area and the patience needed to observe slow but incremental benefits.


62 B. No till Regarding the practice of no till t he s urvey results show that in these communities knowledge of no till is high while practice is moderate. Tab le 12 summarizes responses to the question on whether or not the farmers had heard about no till. Overall for the three groups, a high 71.2% have heard about this practice. Comparing the three groups, it is clear that g roup 2 has had less exposure (58.2%) than g roups 3 (76.6%) and 1 (83.7%). This difference is statistically significant. It appears that t h e difference between farmers who belong to the sa me community is evidence of the work carried out by SN Regarding g roup 3, it is possible that their geographic location, especially residing near main roads and urban centers have provided them with more exposure to this information. Table 1 2 Knowledge of no till per group. S tatus/Group Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Total Has heard about no till 31 ( 83.7 %) 32 ( 58.2 %) 36 ( 76.6 %) 99 ( 71.2 %) Has not heard 6 ( 16.2 %) 23 ( 41.8 %) 11 ( 23.4 %) 40 ( 28.8 %) N 37 55 47 139 (Pearson Chi Square 9.726, df 4, sig 0.045) G roup 1 (SN g roup), group 2 (Neighbors g roup), g roup 3 ( Control g roup) When farmers were asked if they had tried this practice, the responses were similar among the three groups. As T able 13 shows, an average of 27.3% of farmers in the sample have tried no till. Table 1 3 The practice of no till per group S tatus/Group Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Total Has tried no till 11 (29.7%) 13 (23.6%) 14 (29.8%) 38 (27.3%) Has not tried 26 (70.3%) 42 (76.4%) 33 (70.2%) 101 (72.7%) Total 37 55 47 139


63 When farmers we re asked what motivated them to try the practice, very few (n=17) answers were recorded in the interview However t he se are worth mentioning ; i n order of frequency from the highest to lowest they were: They were encouraged to so in training s essions they attended The tractor could not enter into the field, or could not get there on time thus the practice was a potential solution to this problem To prevent soil erosion Lack of time to till Helps the soil Reduces costs Regarding the perceived benefits of no till the responses fr om farmers are shown in Figure 20 (n=58). The biggest benefit according to these farmers is the significant savings on the cost of renting a tractor to cultivat e (32%). The majority of farmers who mentioned savings as their response also noted that yields are the same when compared with a tilled crop, and therefore these savings were important. Other important benefits mentioned were related to the improvement of soil conditions, such as preventing soil erosion (19%), add ing natural f ertilizer (16%), improv ing moisture retention (9%) and others. Some 12 % indicated that there are no benefits, while 9% noted that the crop improves. Finally according to other responses the benefits would be seen in the long term. One farmer shared his experience with no till saying ... Last year I harvested 19 pounds more corn Another farmer talked about how the soil conditions improv ed there is drought and ther e is trash (crop residues), this


64 On the other hand, farmers also reported a number of perce ived disadvantages regarding no till which are summarized in Figure 21 (n=60). The major disadvantage perceived by farmers was related to soil compaction (18%). In fact, no till was usually referred to Due to this compac tion, farmers argued (8%), the crop s become dry (5%) and there is lower production ( 5%). Another perceived challenge was the need for patience when planting (10%), since it is more time consuming which is associated with higher planting costs (8%). Soil pests and even rodents were cited as a disadvantage of this practice (10%). However 13 % of farmers claimed that there were no disadvantages. Other responses included higher pesticides costs high vulnerability during drought periods, and the tradition of see ing the soil clean. Figure 20. Reported benefits no till.


65 C ontrasting the perceived benefits and disadvantages of no till presents a very complex picture. On the one hand, there is strong belief in the improvements in soil condition and an important emphasis on the savings achieved if no till is practiced. On the other hand farmers appear to say that some soil conditions do not improve but rather worsen, specifically moistur e retention and soil s tructure both of which impact crop yields This appears to be a contradiction, but it may be related once again to the period of transition required for this new system. The emphasis on having sufficient rain fall is critical Although some farmers argue that moisture retention was one of the benefits of no till others indicate that it is a disadvantage. Many farmers expressed the following: ps save more moisture ... A farmer shared the results of his experiment as follows In my experiment the milpa the milpa the rivers there is more moi no till Another Figure 21. Reported disadvantages of no till.


66 farmer agreed with thi s by In order to do no till meaning that farmers need the assurance that there will be enough water and moisture in the soil. Yet another farmer mentioned, No till you save on The above four quotes from different farmers emphasize the critical role of rain fall and moisture retention in the no till system. They seem to agree that with enough rain or moisture (like being near a river) the system works well. On the other hand, some farmers prefer tilling in order to capture and use some of the moisture kept in deeper layers of the soil. Finally, a few farmers curr ently working with no till expressed their desire to switch to incorporation of crop residues instead of no till C. Pigeon Pea Cover (Companion/Relay) Crop Given that SN is promoting Pigeon pea or Gandul ( Cajanus cajan ) as a cover (companion/relay) crop tha t can be used for home consumption as well as sold in the market, the survey investigated the quantity of black beans that the family typically eat s The survey results show that o n average each family (of an average 5.71 members) consumes 3.3 pounds of bl ack beans per week. The median is 3.0 pounds. The three groups report similar consumption patterns. The price paid per pound for black beans is in average Q6.21 with a median of Q6.00 and a range of Q5.00 to Q20.00. SN decided to introduce pigeon pea as a cover crop, partly because there is a local landrace that has been traditionally planted in the region, and is regarded as a precious and flavorful food creating significant shade. Fa the abundant harvests it provide. On the other hand, the cover crop introduced by SN,


67 A n average of 68.3% of farmers indicated that the loc al landrace or Alverja i s consumed at home. Responses among the three groups were similar. When farmers were asked if they would be willing to plant G andul if there was a market for it, a high 83% responded positively. Group 1 farmers appeared to be more e nthusiastic with this (94%), while the other two groups had slightly lower percentages. Table 1 4 presents the proportion of farmers per group that has heard about pigeon pea or gandul, its common name. Expectedly, almost all g roup 1 farmers know about thi s crop. About 45% of g roup 2 know or have heard about this crop while only 25% of farmers of g roup 3 do. This difference is statistically significant. Table 1 4 Knowledge about Pi g e on pea or gandul Pearson Chi square 45.791, df 2, sig 0.000 Group 1 (SN group), group 2 (Neighbors g roup), g roup 3 ( Control g roup) Only abo ut 31% farmers of the 146 farmers surveyed planted gandul with the majority of these being in g roup 1. The majority planted gandul intercropped with sesame, just as they were instructed to do so by SN. Only a few planted it on the field borders. Ten farme rs, or 21.7% of the group of farmers who planted gandul reported total loss of their crop due mostly to shade from sesame, while others reported erosion, cattle having eat en it, or even mice as the reason for their loss. Among th e s e responses was the follo wing from a farmer who express ed his great disappointment: ... I took care of it, loaded The majority of farmers were able to harvest some of the crop, but minimal amounts, to the point that they stated it was only enough to sav e for seed, or home consumption For Group Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Total Knows of gandul 37 (97.4%) 24 (44.4%) 12 (25.5%) 73 (52.5%) Does not know of gandul 1 (2.6%) 30 (55.6%) 35 (74.5%) 66 (47.5%) Total 38 54 47 139


68 those who were able to recall their yield the average was 17 pounds per cuerda or tarea (equivalent to 69 kg per h a ) The highest yield reported per cuerda was 64 pounds ; however the low average indicates that there were only a few farmers who were able to harvest more than 20 pounds per cuerda. In general farmers were disappointed by the performance of th is crop. Many wondered if the t iming regarding too much rain or the shade from intercropping was responsible for th e low yields. Some farmers expressed their desire to try again but now without intercropping it with sesame, but rather, planting it alone. In fact, in one focus group ther e was consensus among farmers that they needed to experiment with planting it alone, since they knew that it does not tolerate shade very well. The following expressions illustrate this: ... erminate ... I need to plant it in the dry season perhaps I will plant it in the dry season and in a poor field good yield where there was no sesame ... I want to try 2 rows d uring the rainy season alone. Yet other farmers expressed their lack of knowledge and experience, and also lack of technical support while growing this crop: to talk to ... the crop was unknown, I think D. Green Manures Farmers were also asked in the survey if they had heard about green manures and their responses are presented in Table 1 5


69 Table 1 5 Knowledge about green manures per group. Pearson Chi square 20.892, df 2, sig 0.000 Group 1 (SN group), group 2 (Neighbors g roup), g roup 3 ( Control g roup) It is clear that g roup 1 farmers are much more likely to have heard about green manures compared to those in g roup 2 This statistically significant difference is expected due to the work by SN Group 3 reports a relatively hig h percentage (60%) of awareness of this practice I believe this is due to the previous exposure they may have had under other programs For example, the re were a number of farmers in g roup 3 who indicated that tobacco farmers in their community had been r equired to plant m ucuna cover crop by the tobacco company that buys the harvest. a vine that grows in the palm oil or rubber tree plantations. Although they did not know what a green manure is when f irst asked after pointing out th e example of bejuco most recognize d it and understood what a gre e n manure was ; some had even worked with it in these plantations without knowing its name or what exactly it was. For some farmers, the concept of green manur e was relatively new. Other farmers pointed to the parallels of good harvests after a re sembles a legume bean and is thorny. The incidence of use of cover (green manu re) crop s is extremely low. Of those who responded to this question (n=91), only 12% claimed to use cover crops. Among th is Group Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Total Has heard about green manures 27 (71.1%) 15 (26.8%) 29 (60.4%) 71 (50.0 %) Has not heard 11 (28.9%) 41 (73.2%) 19 (39.6 %) 71 ( 50.0 %) Total 38 56 48 142


70 subsample of 91 respondents 16 % of g roup 1 farmers reported us ing cover crops, 12% for g roup 3 and 7.7% in g roup 2 From the 11 farmers who reported us ing cover crops (green manure), the majority indicated that they had plant ed mucuna, while the remaining mentioned canavalia and kudzu. The amount of area planted ranged from a few rows to 1.5 mz The majority of these farmers were g roup 1 farmers who experiment ed with cover crops during 2013. There was only one farmer who had planted cover crops for as long as fo u r years. Figure 2 2 Reported benefits of green manures. T he perceived benefits of green manures a re reported in Figure 22 (n = 21). It is clear that the majority of farmers who responded to this question consider that this practice improves the soil, promoting better yields and other benefits. A few farmers stated that there is no benefit, as they h ad tried it in the past with no apparent positive results. The perceived disadvantages of this practice are shown in Figure 23


71 Figure 23 Reported disadvantages of green manures. When asked about disadvantages of green manures (n=29), 44% of responden ts consider that there is no disadvantage to this practice O thers report that there are serious perceived disadvantages. The most frequently reported are that farmers may lose a cropping season by planting cover crops (17%), and that doing so requires tim e and additional costs (11%). F armers report that green manures could bring pests (11%) and even become a weed on its own (17%) In summary, green manures are not well known in these communities. Only about 7.5% of the total sample of farmers have tried it, and the balance between advantages and disadvantages appear to be moderately positive but with important concerns.


72 V I I Conclusions Small farmers in the communities studied face a growing number of challenges that prevent them from making a decent living from agriculture. Most of them are aware that their farming activities leave them with little or no profit. However many of them resist giving up on farming due to their cultural tradition, food security concerns, and their desire for autonomy. Th e main chall enges appear to be associated with the market, such as expensive input s low market prices for their produc ts and lack of access to affordable credit and crop insurance Other important factors include the lack of available land and the threat of cli mate change, both of which are likely to worsen in the near future. For farmers who are currently trying the sustainable practices promoted by SN, d egraded soils are perceived as an important problem but not comparab le to other challenges; mostly be cause farmers see themselves as actively addressing this problem through their connection with SN programs. For most other challenges farmers perceive themselves as being almost co mpletely unable to address them; and as a result, som e peasants are giving up farming, some lose their land to accumulated debt, while others migrate to the city or to United States in search for a better life. F armers who are more likely to try any of the practices promoted by SN are older and have a more farming experience tha n non adopters. These farmers also depend more on agriculture for their income, have participated actively in community organizations and have had prior training in alternative crops (other than milpa) Additionally, they appear to have secure land tenure and access to irrigation. By comparing the three different groups of farmers surveyed, the study found that there is no statistical significant differences among the groups in terms of crop yields, fertilizer use and empowerment related measures. The natu re of agricultural practices, such as no burn, no till and cover crops, is to slowly provide accumulative benefits, as the soil health improves. In summary, it may be too early to find any evidence of positive impacts


73 as a result of the practices promoted by SN, as most farmers have used these practices for only 1 to 3 years. The literature support s this idea as most studies which have found significant increases in productivity have documented this between 3 to 5 years after the introduction of these agr icultural practices. In spite of this, farmers who practice no burn and incorporate crop residues perceive that their soil condition has improved. D arker color in the soil and reduced soil erosion are tangible benefits that farmers are observing Addition ally, a few farmers are already reporting increase s in yields and reduction in fertilizer applications ; all of which is very encouraging. Farmers understood that most benefits from these sustainable agricultural practices will be observed in the long term. They often considered that the first few years of the practice was a period of required transition, which created uncertainty, but was needed to achieve the full benefits later on. No burn and the incorporation of crop residues is perceived as the most be neficial practice with some tangible benefits in the short term and low risks. Farmers expect to obtain other benefits from this practice such as yield increases in a couple of years. The picture with no till cover crops and green manures is more complex. In the views of farmers, these three practices appear to require significant amount of work with medium to high risks and low to medium benefits. In the case of no till, it is perceived with much caution, as the potential risks appear to be higher than i ncorporation of crop residues. Farmers who have planted the pigeon pea or gandul cover /relay crop perceive that the use of this co ver crop needs better adaptation to their productive systems, and many are prepared to experiment with it Finally, the use of green manures such as mucuna appears to have potential for these farming systems but only 11 farmers were experimenting with it at the time of the survey. Therefore the information collected about this topic was very limited.


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78 Biologically Based Approaches. I n Uphoff N. et al. E ditors Biological Approaches to sustainable soil systems First Edition. CRC Press. pp. 693 714 Us Pinula, J. C. ( 2013 ) Acceso v ersus Acaparamiento de tierras: u na breve aproximacin a la problemtica en Guatemala. Serie Cuadernos Populares No. 3. Coordinacin de ONG y Cooperativas (CONGCOOP)/Instituto de Estudios Agrarios y Rurales (IDEAR) A bril Ciudad de Guatemala. Van Etten, J. & Fuentes, M. ( 2004 ) La crisis del maz en Guatemala: Las importaciones de maz y la agricultura familiar. Anuario de Estudios Centroamericanos, Universidad de Costa Rica, Vol. 30 : 1 2 pp. 51 66. Viscidi, Lisa. ( 2004 ) A History of Land in Guatemala: Conflict and Hope for Reform. Ameri cas Program of the Interhemispheric Resource Center. Silver City, New Mexico. http://www.nisgua.org/themes_campaigns/land_ri ghts/Background/A%20History% 20of%20Land%20in%20Guatemala%20091704.pdf Retrieved on September 10, 2012. Winkler, Katja. ( 2013 ) La expansion de la caa de azcar en Suchitepquez y su impacto en la subsistencia de la poblacin del altiplano guatemalteco: un caso local del fenmeno d e acaparamiento de tierras. Coordinacin de ONG y Cooperativas (CONGCOOP)/Instituto de Estudios Agrarios y Rurales (IDEAR). Ciudad de Guatemala World Bank. ( 1995 ) Guatemala. An assessment of Poverty. Report No. 12313. April 1 7. Guatemala City. http://www wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/1995/04/17/ 000009265_396 1008002311/ Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdf World Bank. ( 2002 ) No Till Farming for Sustainable Rural Development. Agriculture & Rural Development Working Paper The World Bank Washington, DC June. World Food Program (WFP) ( 2013 ) Guatemala Overview. http://www.wfp.org/countries/guatemala/overview Retrieved on January 16, 2013.


79 Appendix 1. Survey Question List in English Semilla Nueva Survey Spring 2013 Date:____________________ Community:_______________________________ Survey No. ______________ Peasant Group: 1_____ 2_____ 3______ Gender: F_____ M______ Name of person taking the interview:________________________ General Aspects 1. How old are you ?: 2. Do you belong to any indigenous group? 3. In case you answered yes, which one it is? 4. Where are you from ? 5. How many years ago have you b een producing corn and sesame? 6. How many people live in this house? 7. How many people depend on you, your work, or on the food that this houses produce? 8. What level of education do you have? 9. Do you have family in the US? 10. From your family, how many are living i n the US now? 11. Do you receive economic support from them? Productive and Economic Aspects 12. What crops do you grow? 13. What other crops have you worked with? 14. Do you have livestock? 15. How many and what kind? 16. Do you keep track of your agricultural costs every year? 17. How do you keep track of it? 18. What surface area of land do you cultivate? 19. Do you have any document supporting your ownership/rent agreement for your land? 20. What area of land did you rent last year? 21. How much did you pay for the land rental last year? 22. Did you obtain credit last year? 23. What was the source of that credit? 24. How much credit did you obtain? 25. What was the interest rate for that loan? 26. In what area of land did you use fertilizers last year? 27. What are the main insect pests that affect your crops? 28. How many kgs of sesame did you harvest per Hectare? 29. What was the price for the quintal (about 45 kgs) of sesame? 30. Do you have access to irrigation in your land? 31. What area of land do you irrigate? 32. How much did you spend in irrigation last year?


80 33. How many quintales o f corn did you harvest last year per hectare? 34. Do you sell your corn to a middleman, or through a peasant association, or a bigger company? 35. How many quintales from your harvest do you store? 36. From this harvest, how many quintales do you use for family consu mption? 37. What date and for how long do you buy corn when it is scarce? 38. Why does the stored corn runs out? 39. What kind of corn seed did you buy last year? 40. What was the price you sold a quintal of corn last year? Costs per hectare Seed Mechanization Fertilizers Harvest labor Corn Sesame Labor for each crop stage (corn) Planting Mecanization Fertilizer application Harvest Corn Sesame 41. Did you or a family member worked on a plantation in 2012? 42. For how long? 43. Besides agriculture, what other activities does the family do? 44. How much of the family income comes from agriculture? All More than half Half Less than half Very little Climatic and Soil Aspects 45. Were you affected during the Agatha storm of 2010? (yield loss) 46. Did the drought of 2009 affected your crops? 47. And how about the other years, did any natural disaster affected your crops? How much yield loss did you have? 2008 2011 2012 48. What is the state of your soil? Better, worse or the same, when compared to 5 years a go? 49. Why? What are the reasons behind those changes, improvement or worsening? 50. What have you done to improve it? What do you do to maintain your land productive? Peasant to Peasant knowledge and Access to Knowledge 51. Have you participated in trainings in corn cultivation or other crops? 52. Who organized the trainings?


81 53. What kind of topics did these trainings touch on? 54. Who do you ask when you have a technical question about pests, seeds or agriculture? 55. Have you received support from the Guatemalan Ministry of A griculture? 56. Please rate the service of the Guatemalan Ministry from 1 to 5. 1 being very bad and 5 being very good. 57. What does the COCODE do in your community? (COCODE is the local community development representative) 58. Please rate the service of the COCODE from 1 to 5. 59. Would you be willing to try out new crops, varieties, or new agricultural practices that would help your crops? 60. Why, or why not? 61. When you try something new such as a crop, variety, etc, how do you do it? 62. How do you measure the results, if it worked or not? 63. Do you chat with your neighbors about these tests? 64. What is lacking in the community in order for agriculture to improve and help the community to develop? 65. How could we encourage more peasants to experiment with new ideas and collaborate with their neighbors to improve the local agriculture? Questions about Gandul (Alverja or Peagon Pea) 66. How many pounds of black beans does your family consume per week? 67. How many quetzales (local currency) does your family spend in black beans each week? 68. Do you know the variety of alverja or gandul that you intercrop with sesame? 69. In case you do, how much did you plant, harvested and how did you use it? 70. From the local variety of alverja, haver you planted it within the last 5 years? 71. What was the area planted to a lverja in 2012? 72. How do you consume alverja at your home? 73. If there was a market and the family knew how to cook alverja, would you consider planting alverja (the variety that is intercropped with sesame) in all your land? Questions about Burning 74. Do you burn the crop residues or stubble? 75. In case you don't, why did you stop burning? 76. How long ago do you have since stopping to burn the stubble? 77. Have you heard about people who incorporate their crop residues instead of burning them? 78. Have you tried to do this ? 79. What was the area where you incorporated the crop residues instead of burning them in 2012? 80. What are the benefits of incorporating the crop residues? 81. What are the disadvantages of incorporating the crop residues? Questions about Cultivation 82. Do you culti vate, use romplow, or make grooves on your land? 83. Have you heard about no till agriculture? 84. Have you tried no till agriculture? 85. How much of your land did you use no till in 2012? 86. How long ago did you stop cultivating your land? 87. Why did you started doing that? 88. What are the benefits of no till? 89. What are the disadvantages of no till?


82 Questions about Green Manures 90. Have you heard about green manures (such as mucuna) that is used to improve the soil? 91. Do you use green manures? 92. What kind of green manures do you use? 93. What is the area of land where you use green manures in 2012? 94. How long ago did you start using green manures? 95. Why did you start using green manures? 96. What are the benefits of using green manures? 97. What are the disadvantages of green manures? 98. Have you had friends of neighbors that seeing your use of no till, green manures, or no burn, have started using them as well? 99. How did that happen? Empowerment Related Questions 100. You have access to the information you need to improve your crops and your commun ity. Completely agree Agree I don't know Disagree Completely disagree 101. You know what to do to maintain your land productive Completely agree Agree I don't know Disagree Completely disagree 102. You buy your agricultural inputs on fair prices. Completely agree Agree I don't know Disagree Completely disagree 103. You have access to good markets and good prices for your harvest. Completely agree Agree I don't know Disagree Completely disagree 104. You can test or evaluate a new technology, practice, or crop, and adopt it or reject it depending on its results. Completely agree Agree I don't know Disagree Completely disagree 105. You believe that the agricultural experiences from your friends and neighbors help you im prove your crops. Completely agree Agree I don't know Disagree Completely disagree 106. You have experiences and knowledge that, by sharing with others, can help them to improve their crops. Completely agree Agree I don't know Disagree Com pletely disagree 107. The neighbors from this community participate actively to solve the needs of the community. Completely agree Agree I don't know Disagree Completely disagree 108. The collaboration among neighbors is very important for the development of the community. Completely agree Agree I don't know Disagree Completely disagree 109. With great effort, this community can advance without the need to depend on inpu ts from outside. Completely agree Agree I don't know Disagree Completely disagree 110. Do you participate actively in any organizations or associations in this community? 111. Which one?


83 Observaciones/Notas:____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ Appendix 2. Survey Instrument Used Semilla Nueva Encuesta Primavera 2013 Fecha:____________________ Comunidad:_______________________________ Encuesta No. ______________ Grupo de Campesino: 1_____ 2_____ 3______ Gnero de la persona entrevistada: F_____ M______ Encargada (o) de la entrevista:________________________ 1) Campesino que se ha involucrado con SN 2) Campesino No Involucrado con SN, pero que vive en una comunidad donde SN trabaja 3) Campesino que vive en una co munidad donde SN No trabaja. Aspectos Generales 1. Cual es su edad?: 20 29 30 39 40 49 50 59 60 69 70+ 2. Pertenece usted a algn grupo indgena? Si No 3. En caso de Si, Cual? ______________________________________ 4. De donde es originar io usted? Aqui Otro lugar 5. Hace cuntos aos ha producido su propio maz y ajonjol? 6. Cuntas personas viven en esta casa? 7. Cuntas personas dependen de usted, de su trabajo, o de la comida que produce en esta casa? 8. Qu grado de educacin tiene usted ?


84 Observaciones/Notas:____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ 9. Tiene usted familiares en los Estados Unidos? Si No 10. De su familia, cuntos estn viviendo en EEUU ahora? 11. Recibe apoyo econmico de ellos (as)? Si No Aspectos Productivos y Econmicos 12. A qu cultivos se dedica usted? 13. Qu otras experiencias con cultivos tiene usted? Con qu otros cultivos usted ha trabajado? 14. Cra usted animales? Si No 15. Cuntos y de qu clase? 16. Usted lleva la cuenta de sus gastos (cu nto usted gasta por semillas, pesticidas, fertilizantes y labor) en la cosecha cada ao? Si No 17. Cmo lleva la cuenta usted? La apunta? 18. Qu rea de terreno cultiva usted? Manzanas Cuerdas(1/16) Tareas (1/6)


85 Observaciones/Notas:____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ 19. Qu papeles le respaldan su terreno ? 20. Qu rea de terreno alquil usted el ao pasado? Manzanas Cuerdas Tareas 21. Cunto pag para alquilar el terreno el ao pasado? Total Por Manzana Por Cuerda 22. Usted sac un crdito este ao pasado? 23. Cul fue la fuente de su crdito o crditos? 24. Cunto pidi? 25. L a tasa de inters? 26. En qu rea del terreno us usted fertilizantes? 27. Cuales son las plagas ms comunes que afectan sus cultivos? La Gallina Ciega Araas Rojas Gusanitos Chincha de Caja Otra: Otra: 28. Cuntos quintales cosecho por manzana de ajonjol? 29. Qu precio tena el quintal de ajonjol?


86 Observaciones/Notas:____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ 30. Usted tiene acceso a riego en su terreno? Si No 31. Qu rea de terreno riega usted? Manzanas Cuerdas Tareas 32. Cunto gast usted en riego el ao pasado ? 33. Cuntos quintales de maz cosech usted de cada manzana o cuerda en el 2012? 34. Usted vende su maz a un intermediario o por una asociacin a una empresa ms grande? 35. Cuntos quintales de la cosecha almacena usted? 36. De esta cosecha, cuntos quintales fueron para consumo familiar? 37. En qu fecha y por cunto tiempo compra usted maz cuando hay escasez? 38. Por qu se acaba el maz almacenado? 39. Qu tip o de semilla de maz compr usted el ao pasado? 40. A qu precio vendi usted un quintal de maz? Gastos por manzana semilla mechanizaci n (juntar basura, fertilizantes mano de obra (de la cosecha)


87 Observaciones/Notas:____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ quemar, arar, rastrear, surquear) Maz Ajonjol Mano de obra de cada etapa (maz) Siembra Mechanizaci n Aplicaci n de fertilizantes La cosecha Maz Ajonjol 41. Trabaj usted o un familiar en una finca en 2012? Bananero Con los caeros Palma africana Otra: 42. Por cunto tiempo? _______ Dias ________ Semanas ________ Meses 43. Adems de la agricultura, a que otras actividades se dedica la familia? _____________________________________________________________________________________ 44. Cunto del ingreso familiar viene de la agricultura? Todo Ms de la mitad La mitad Menos de la mitad Muy poco Aspectos Climticos y de Suelo 45. Cmo le impact su cosecha las tormentas el ao de Agatha (2010)? [estimated yield loss]


88 Observaciones/Notas:____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ 46. Cmo le impact su cosecha la sequa del ao anterior (2009)? 47. Y en los otros aos le impact sequas, tormentas, que daaron sus cultivos? Cuanto? 2008 Dao 2011 Dao 2012 Dao 48. Cmo est el suelo de su terreno?, mejor, peor o igual que hace 5 aos? Peor Mejor Lo mismo 49. Porqu? Cuales son las razones de este cambio, el mejoramiento o empeoramiento? 50. Qu ha hecho usted para mejorarlo? Qu hace usted para mantener su tierra productiva? Campesino a Campesino y Acces o a Conocimiento 51. Ha usted participado en capacitaciones en cultivo de maz, u otros cultivos ? Si No 52. Quien organiz las capacitaciones? 53. Qu tema se trataron en las capacitaciones? 54. Con quien consulta usted cuando tiene una pregunta tcnica sobre plagas, semillas y agricultura? 55. Ha recibido apoyo tcnico del MAGA?


89 Observaciones/Notas:____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ Si No 56. Cmo ha sido el servicio del MAGA ? 1 2 3 4 5 muy malo malo mas o menos bueno buenisimo! 57. Qu hace el COCODE en su comunidad? 58. Cmo ha sido el servicio del COCODE ? 1 2 3 4 5 muy malo malo mas o menos bueno buenisimo! 59. Estara usted dispuesto a probar nuevos cultivos, variedades o nuevas prcticas que le ayuden en el campo? Si No 60. Por qu? o por quno? 61. Cuando usted prueba un nuevo trabajo como lo hace? 62. Cmo ve los resultados? Si funciona o no? 63. Platica usted con sus vecinos sobre las comparaciones que usted ha hecho? 64. Qu es lo que hace falta en la comunidad para que la agricultura mejore y ayude al desarrollo? 65. Cmo podramos animar ms campesinos para experimentar con nuevas ideas y colaborar con sus vecinos para mejorar agricultura?


90 Observaciones/Notas:____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ Preguntas sobre alverja (gandul) 66. Cuntas libras de frijoles negros consume su familia cada semana? 67. Cuntos quetzales gasta su familia en frijoles negros cada semana? 68. Conoce usted la variedad de alverja/gandul que se siembre entre Ajonjoli? Si No Cuando la respuesta es NO, salte a la siguiente seccin. 69. En caso de si, cuanto lo sembro, cosecho, y como lo utilizo? 70. De la alverja criolla, ha usted sembrado en los ltimos 5 aos ? Si No 71. Cual fue el rea sembrada con alverja en el 2012? 72. Se consume alverja en su casa? Si No 73. Si hubiera un mercado y si la familia supiera como cocinar alverja (gandul), usted considerar a sembrar alverja (gandul -la variedad que siembra entre su ajonjoli) en todo su terreno? Si No Preguntas sobre la Quema. 74. Quema usted el rastrojo en su terreno? Si No 75. En caso No, Por qu dej usted de quemar? 76. Desde hace cunto tiempo usted ya no usa la quema?


91 Observaciones/Notas:____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ 77. Ha escuchado usted de gente que incorporan sus rastrojos en vez de quemarl os? Si No 78. Ha probado usted hacer esto? Si No 79. Cual fue el rea donde usted incorpor sus rastrojos en vez de quemarlos en el 2012? 80. Cuales son los beneficios de la incorporacin de los rastrojos? 81. Cules son los desventajas de la incorporacin de los rastrojos? Preguntas sobre Arar. 82. Usted ara, rastra, surquea, o mete romplow su terreno? Ara Rastra Surquea Romplow No 83. Usted ha escuchado de cero labranza, o sea de la prctica de no mecanizar su ter reno? Si No 84. Usted ha probado cero labranza? Si No 85. En cuanto terreno us cero labranza en el 2012? 86. Hace cunto tiempo dej usted de mecanizar su terreno? 87. Por qu empez? 88. Cules son los beneficios de cerolabranza? 89. Cules son las desventajas de cerolabranza?


92 Observaciones/Notas:____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ Preguntas sobre Abonos Verdes. 90. Usted ha escuchado de los abonos verdes (como el frijol abono o mucuna) para fortalecer el suelo? Si No 91. Usted usa abonos verdes? Si No 92. Qu tipos de abonos verdes usa usted? Canavalia Macuna (frijol abono, nescafe) Maniya (pinchoy) Otro: 93. Cual fue el rea de terreno donde usted us abonos verdes en el 2012? 94. Hace cunto tiempo usa usted abonos verdes? 95. Por qu empez usted a usar abonos verdes? 96. Cules son los beneficios de los abonos verdes? 97. Cules son las desventajas de los abonos verdes? 98. Ha tenido usted vecinos o amigos que viendo su uso de cero labranza, abonos verdes y no quema, han empezado a usarl os tambin? Si No 99. Como se paso? 100. Usted tiene acceso a la informacin que necesita para mejorar sus cultivos y su comunidad Totalmente de acuerdo De acuerdo No se No estoy de acuerdo Totalmente en desacuerdo 101. Usted sabe que hacer para mantener su tierra productiva


93 Observaciones/Notas:____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ Totalmente de acuerdo De acuerdo No se No estoy de acuerdo Totalmente en desacuerdo 102.. Usted compra los insumos para sus cultivos a un precio favorable Totalmente de acuerdo De acuerdo No se No estoy de acuerdo Totalmente en desacuerdo 103. Usted tiene acceso a buenos mercados y a un buen precio para vender su cosecha Totalmente de acuerdo De acuerdo No se No estoy de acuerdo Totalmente en desacuerdo 104. Uste d puede probar o evaluar una nueva tecnologa, prctica o cultivo, y adoptarla o rechazarla segn sus resultados Totalmente de acuerdo De acuerdo No se No estoy de acuerdo Totalmente en desacuerdo 105. Usted considera que las experiencias d e cultivo de sus vecinos y amigos le ayudan a mejorar su produccin Totalmente de acuerdo De acuerdo No se No estoy de acuerdo Totalmente en desacuerdo 106.. Usted tiene experiencias y conocimiento que al compartirlas con otros pueden ayudarles a mejorar sus cultivos Totalmente de acuerdo De acuerdo No se No estoy de acuerdo Totalmente en desacuerdo 107. Los vecinos de esta comunidad participan activamente para resolver las necesidades de la comunidad Totalmente de acuerdo De acuerdo No se No estoy de acuerdo Totalmente en desacuerdo 108. La colaboracin entre vecinos es muy importante para el desarrollo de la comunidad. Totalmente de acuerdo De acuerdo No se No estoy de acuerdo Totalmente en desacuerdo 109. Con mucho trabajo, esta comunidad puede salir adelante sin necesidad de depender de recursos de afuera. Totalmente de acuerdo De acuerdo No se No estoy de acuerdo Totalmente en desacuerdo 110. Participa usted activamente en alguna organizacin de la comunidad? Si No 111. Cul?

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Appendix 3. Focus Group questions used & English translation Conversacin Grupal Productores Agrcolas Tiempo estimado 1 hora 45 min 1 Bienvenida, explicaci n sobre conversacin grupal 2 Todos : Que le gusta ms a usted sobre el campo y la agricultura? (10 min) 3 Corta presentacin sobre los problemas de la agricultura a la luz de la encuesta (5 min) Insumos y semillas caras Sequias e inundaciones.. clima Mal mercado, Precio de venta y coyotes Falta de tierra Falta de capital inicial, crdito favorable y endeu damiento Suelos deteriorados, erosin, quema Avance de caa de azucar Plagas y enfermedades Falta de riego Falta de union entre productores No tenemos asesoria tcnica Abandono del gobierno y corrupcin Falta de diversificacin.. costumbre de sembrar maz 4 Todos: Escoja uno o dos de estos problemas, o alguno que no est aqu, que son importantes para usted y explquenos como le ha afectado, talvez a travs de una experiencia o historia (20 min) 5 Ejercicio de Priorizacin de problemas (5 min) 6 Discusin sobre resultados de priorizacin (10) 7 Refaccin ( 5 10 min ) 8 Discusion. Si estos problemas continan, como ve usted la agricultura en su comunidad dentro de 15 aos? (10 15 min) 9 Discusion .. Que pueden hacer los productores al respecto? (10 min)

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10 Discusion de Tecnologias de Semilla Nueva. (35 40 min) El grupo puede escoger 2 de las siguientes tres. Discusin de ventajas y desventajas de acuerdo a la encuesta. Experimentos, recomendaciones para mejorar la tecnologa, para animar a otros productores a probar. Incorporacin de rastrojos Cero labranza Gandul 11 Ejercicio: Riesgo, Beneficios y Costos de las tecnolog as promovidas por SN Condensed Focus Group Agenda English Translation Estimated Time: 1 h 45 m 1. Welcome, explanation of focus groups and permission to proceed and record 2. Everybody : What do you like the most about working on your land and your crops? (10 min) 3. Short presentation about the survey (5 min) 4. Everybody: Go around telling a story or experience. (20 min) 5. Exercise: Prioritizing Problems (5 min) 6. Discus sion about the exercise (10) 7. Break 8. If these problems continue, how do you see agriculture in this community within 15 years? (10 15 min) 9. Discussion. What can producers do regarding these problems? (10 min) 10. Discussion SN technologies (30 min) No burn, no till, gandul. 11. Exercise: risks, benefits and costs of SN technologies.

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A ppendix 4 Chart used during focus group

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Appendix 5. Practicum Timetable Activity Before Week 1 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 M et host organization and communities x Develop ed criteria to measure impact of organization's work x x Draft ed and finalize d survey instrument x x Survey ed communities x x x x x Community focus groups following survey x x Key stakeholder interview and observation x x x x Preliminary data analysis x x x x x Preliminary results presentation presented x