Sustainable Family Farms Reducing Poverty and Deforestation in Central AmericaBelize, Honduras, Nicaragua & Panama Cape Elizabeth H.S., 2009
SHI currently works in four countries: Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua & Panama. We work in southern Belize, Toledo district. SHI works in two districts of northern Honduras. We work on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. We work in two districts of Panama.
Mitigate global warming by absorption of CO2
Prevent siltation of reefs and other aquatic ecosystems
Allow rainfall to reach underground aquifers to maintain potable water supply
The local people of Central America rely very directly on the forest for food, shelter, medicineand water.
Many farmers still practice slash and burn, because ash acts as a fertilizer and fire clears the land. However, it also leads to more soil washing away and more contamination of soil and water, especially if pesticides are involved. Cattle grazing can add to the problem because of soil compaction and the need for more open pasture.
Slash-and-burn agriculture destroys forests and forces farming families off their land. Farmers are hungry for information on alternatives to slash-and-burn farming that provide a decent quality of life for their families and communities. Sustainable Harvest International was incorporated as a nonprofit in May 1997 to help farmers adopt those alternatives.
An important part of how SHI works is to hire local field trainers who work with individual families on the farms where these families live, helping them learn new techniques and market their crops, as well as helping to reforest in areas that are environmentally sensitive. Below are two of our Nicaragua field trainers visiting farmers and discussing the crops being grown. It is this direct, hands-on and long-term commitment that makes SHI different.
Sustainable techniques for growing traditional staple crops
Healthy Soils Produce Healthy Crops Composting and bocashi Worm composting
Rice paddies produce four times as much rice as slash-and-burn rice, so families have more to eat and more to sell.
Other techniques taught by SHI include:
Integrated Pest Management
SHI families live in small remote villages, and have had little or no access to education about alternative growing methods. That is one of the greatest needs that SHI field trainers meet.
Alley-Cropping Nitrogen fixing trees are mixed in with agricultural crops. Trees are cut back when they start to shade out the agricultural crops. Trunk and branches become firewood or fence posts, leaves and stems become mulch.
Family Gardens An important part of SHI’s work is to help families plant organic gardens thereby improving their diet and income. SHI works to provide seed and instruction for gardens, and helps families to market excess produce.
Reforestation and Agroforestry SHI helps families and community groups to grow trees from seeds in nurseries for later transplant onto farms and public land. SHI participants plant a variety of hardwood, fruit, spice and other types of trees.
BiodiversityGrowing a diversity of crops together provides ecological AND financial stability on participants’ farms.
Vanilla vine on hardwood tree Hardwood tree shading cacao.
The income on this farm increased from $80 to $1,000 by switching to sustainable practices & more valuable crops.
Don Cheyo made over $4,000 from sustainably grown new cash crops such as Tabasco peppers.
Value Added Products Medicinal herbs Eggs for local market Non-traditional crops
Chicken coops keep chickens and eggs safe from predators
Small Fish Ponds also improve nutrition and income.
Wood-conserving stoves protect the health of women, children and forests.
Biogas digesters produce methane from organic waste. Methane gas from the biogas digester replaces firewood for cooking.
SHI works both with the communities and in cooperative projects with organizations such as Engineers Without Borders or Rotary International on special projects, such as small potable water & reforestation projects, or sugar and molasses production projects Special Projects
School Programs & Environmental Education
Smaller World Trips
Join us on a Smaller World Trip and see SHI’s work first hand Growth is guaranteed… mud wrestling is optional
SHI’s Accomplishments to Date
More than 12,000 acres of degraded land converted to sustainable uses
More than 60,000 acres of tropical forest saved from slash and burn farming
More than 2.6 million trees planted
SHI’s Accomplishments to Date
23 community loan funds started with $10,000 seed capital, now manage $40,000 capital
Technical assistance provided to over 1,800 families in 120 communities in four countries
$18,000 supports the work of one field trainer for an entire year. $6,000 sponsors an entire village program for a whole year.$500 provides a family with technical support and materials for one year.$200 covers the costs of establishing a five acre agro-forestry plot.$50 buys the materials for a wood-conserving stove.
Sustainable Harvest International Planting Hope Nourishing Communities Restoring Forests