Pupils queuing for lunch at the Francisco Navarro School. - - Rural Development for Food Security in the Sur de Lempira Region: GCP/HON/021/NET. The project aims to improve food security through better agricultural practices with people's participation, and to transform present traditional subsistence farming into market-based agriculture. It is located on the Honduras/El Salvador border in an area with chronic malnutrition and plagued by drought.
In agreement with the Government of Honduras, this project was initiated in 1999, financed by the Government of the Netherlands, with technical assistance provided by FAO.
The main objectives are to stimulate awareness among the population of the importance of natural resources; to move away from slash-and-burn agriculture and encourage reforestation; to introduce new technologies that help to increase food production and promote post-harvest processing and commercialization of local products such as cheese, vegetables and olives. Women especially benefit from these activities.
A successful technique adopted by many farmers consists of growing trees for timber and fruit. The tree foliage creates shade, which protects crops and poultry from the strong tropical sun. Trees are pruned for domestic use, such as fuel wood. This technique retains moisture in the soil, enabling crops to withstand the regular drought that afflicts the area.
The project also focuses on encouraging women to transfer their cooking activities from dark, smoky rooms to outdoor area. With this change, respiratory problems have already decreased.
Another important activity is the construction of improved storage containers, such as small silos for storing of beans and maize.
Farmers' children also benefit from this project. They are involved in a school programme that teaches them how to farm on hillsides, working on their parents' farms. When students have finished their studies, they will be fully qualified to run the farms, and at th