Supporting Small Farmers in Costa Rica and Guatemala
Submitted by EARTH University
Two sisters in Costa Rica grow greens and other vegetables with sustainable practices.
The Walmart Foundation has provided a grant to EARTH University Foundation (EARTH) to support EARTH to engage and strengthen hundreds of small farmers in Costa Rica and Guatemala. The Walmart Foundation has made a generous $935,000 two-year grant to EARTH to develop a new support model for small farmers (6 – 20 hectares) that can help 1) improve the sustainable management of their farms and 2) increase access to local markets as a means of strengthening overall livelihoods for participating farmers and their families.
This program is part of a broader effort by the Walmart Foundation to address systemic barriers that prevent smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs from expanding their market access and improving their livelihoods. At EARTH, the program will be implemented through EARTH Futures, the impact platform of EARTH University in Costa Rica, which advances leadership and innovative solutions to overcome key challenges facing rural communities in developing regions.
EARTH will design and deliver an integral support model for farmers to help them be competitive, resilient and sustainable in the face of an increasingly challenging environment. The program has two core components:
Precision Agriculture: The first component will equip farmers with the knowledge and technological tools they need to improve the productivity and environmental sustainability of their farms. Precision agriculture technology can help farmers better understand their land and crops, allowing them to make educated decisions about how to manage their farms more sustainably. The program will incorporate hands-on training, precision agriculture techniques and technological support and recommendations drawing on the expertise of EARTH's Precision Agriculture Center (PAC).
Access to Markets: The second component will empower farmers with new knowledge, skills and relationships to strengthen access to local markets for their products. For this work EARTH will provide market analysis, integral training opportunities, and collaboration opportunities through the University's extensive network of graduates and allies in both countries.
Agriculture has traditionally been an important source of employment in Central America, a region where small farms predominate. However, in recent years unsustainable farm management practices, climate change, and lack of access to new technologies on behalf of small farmers have made it increasingly difficult to earn a dignified living on sustainably managed farms and have driven young people to abandon the sector and migrate in search of better lives. In addition to the support model for farmers, EARTH will also provide training in new agricultural technologies to teachers and students at local high schools as a means of encouraging and helping to prepare the next generation of agricultural entrepreneurs and farmers that can lead the transformation to more sustainable food systems in both countries.
“We are pleased to support EARTH, a leading global agriculture university with a diverse, highly skilled alumni network, student and teaching body. The regional design and reach of the program will transfer and build essential skills for more sustainable production systems, introduce new buyers and markets, with the end goal of increasing farmer livelihoods”, said Sherry-Lee Singh, Director, Strategic Initiatives, The Walmart Foundation.
EARTH University’s President, Arturo Condo, is excited about the collaboration and noted that “EARTH is extremely grateful for the Walmart Foundation’s grant to expand the important work of EARTH Futures. This project builds on EARTH’s experience in preparing thousands of young leaders from across the globe to transform rural areas for the better, and we are excited to deepen the University’s impact in Costa Rica and Guatemala working in partnership with local farmers and their communities. This collaboration with the Walmart Foundation is a fantastic opportunity to consolidate a new model to help strengthen small to mid-sized farmers in the critical role they play in building more sustainable food systems for all.”
EARTH University is a private, non-profit, international university based in Costa Rica and created with support from the Costa Rican government, U.S. Agency for International Development and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. EARTH’s mission is to prepare leaders with ethical values to contribute to sustainable development and to construct a prosperous and just society. Since 1990, EARTH’s innovative educational experience has prepared nearly 2500 young people from over 50 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and other regions to act as enlightened and effective leaders for rural areas. Nearly 81% of EARTH students come from rural areas, 49% are women, and 81% return after graduation as change agents in their home communities. EARTH’s holistic approach to preparing young leaders for the sector touches on all aspects of the sustainable agricultural value chain as well as emphasizing the critical role of entrepreneurship.
For more information, please visit https://www.earth.ac.cr/en/ Follow EARTH on Twitter @EARTH_Uni
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart.org represent the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By leaning in where our business has unique strengths, we work to tackle key social issues and collaborate with others to spark long-lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 27 countries, employing more than 2 million associates and doing business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart.org is helping people live better by supporting programs that work to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, address hunger and make healthier, more sustainably-grown food a reality, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit www.walmart.org or find us on Twitter @walmartorg.
EARTH University, established in Costa Rica at the close of the Central American civil wars in 1986, was founded on the premise that local leadership would be key to achieving peace and shared prosperity among rural communities struggling with poverty and limited futures. With this transformative premise in mind, EARTH set out to train and prepare future generations of values-driven leaders for rural areas. Over the past three decades, the University has consolidated an established platform for rural leadership education that has provided holistic undergraduate education in agricultural sciences to more than 2,400 students from 50 countries around the world.
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