In 2021, severe food insecurity in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua has quadrupled due to the economic crisis triggered by Covid-19 and several consecutive years of extreme weather events. In January of the same year, 15% of people in Central America surveyed by the World Food Programme (WFP) expressed concrete plans to migrate, because their homes and crops had been destroyed, food was running out and employment opportunities were diminishing.
In a region where the population growth rate for 2030 is forecast to be 20%, farming families who feed the cities are struggling with rural poverty, climate change, low production, low competitiveness, and a strong disconnection with research centres in horticulture to develop innovations to face these challenges.
The project "Innovamos": Harvesting knowledge in Central America, addresses these challenges by facilitating the connection and development of innovative solutions between 21 farmer organisations and universities, together with private companies, service providers and ONG´s linked to the horticultural sector, towards a competitive and sustainable production of safe and high-quality vegetables for Central America.
All stakeholders in the vegetable sector will develop and validate solutions to specific problems in vegetable production in each country, taking into account the well-being of consumers and farmers.
The focus is to develop innovations at three levels: technological, institutional and knowledge exchange, facilitated by public-private multi-stakeholder spaces in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras, where the 21-farmer organisation and university partners of the project and allies have developed the following 5 components.
1. Co-creation of institutional innovation
2. Technological innovation
3. Technological exchange
Period of implementation: 2020 -2022
Beneficiaries: 1,200 vegetable farmers.
Farmer members of the 21 organisations in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. With an average of 18% female members.
Budget: US$ 132,000 dollars
Financial and technical support came from companies and research institutions such as Tomabel, REO-Veiling, ARDO, De Lochting and INAGRO, as well as the Province of West-Flanders in Belgium.
The decision to work with organisations from the three countries was not taken lightly. Rikolto had previously organised a very successful exchange between horticultural cooperatives in Nicaragua and farmers in Belgium.
Inagro, a research centre of agricultural and horticultural businesses in Belgium is a knowledge partner of the initiative funded by the province of West Flanders in Belgium. During a two years period of implementation, starting in 2020, the project aims to improve the livelihoods of 1,200 smallholder farmers in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala.