FEATURE STORY

Small farmers learn to improve their income while caring for the environment

August 3, 2012


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Librada González working in her farm in eastern Paraguay. 

Photo: Ruth Gonzalez Llamas/World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thousands of rural families receive investment funds for production.
  • With technical advice, they learn to plan their crops and earn more.
  • By the end of 2012, another 5,000 rural families are expected to improve their production.

Librada González carefully places her garden products in two large baskets to carry them to the municipal market in Caaguazú, 20 km from her farm in Cantera Boca, a community in eastern Paraguay.

She has to walk a kilometer and wait for a bus that drops her close to the market.  The trip is tiring but she returns satisfied with her sales: about US$20 per week. "We can buy some food and school supplies," says.

Librada's family is one of the 3,000 that are benefitting from a production investment fund of the Sustainable Rural Development Project (Proders in spanish) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG) with technical and financial support from the World Bank.

The project is implemented in San Pedro and Caaguazú Departments and is aimed to small farmers with less than 20 hectares of land -there is an average of 5 hectares per farmer- in 61 watersheds of rural communities and 73 indigenous communities.


" The training is very important for us, we are learning how to grow our crops without damaging the earth "

Librada González

Farmer

Training for production and management

The investments are used to buy corn, bean or peanuts seeds (for both family production and consumption), buy small equipment and tools, and to improve infrastructure used in the raising of chickens and pigs.

To have access to the fund, family committees receive advice from a technical team to make a production activity plan that takes into account the market production potential and their income.

Librada is happy with her production planning "we are growing more beans and vegetables because we saw in our plan that it could have good results and sell well," explains.

The use of these accounting tools has made the farmers participate in production cooperatives or in communal boards.

Sustainable production

Another challenge is to guide families to change their current agricultural practices to sustainable strategies that improve natural resource management and reduce rural poverty.

"The training is very important for us, we are learning how to grow our crops without damaging the earth," says Librada.

By the end of 2012, another 5,000 families are expected to participate in the project, which will make a total of 8,000. The final objective is more than 12,000 families growing diversified products in a sustainable way.


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