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FEATURE STORY October 28, 2021

New Agricultural Practices are Transforming Paraguay's Countryside


The Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Project (PRODERS) has supported rural and indigenous families in Paraguay to increase their income and improve their quality of life

"Some time ago, we went through hardships; there was nothing [to eat]. We were surviving only on what was available (...) My children used to ask me: 'Mom, what are we going to eat?' And I would reply "We have nothing". Ten years later, Ña Modesta Sosa, member of the Guaná community tells a very different story.  Today, she and her children and other 28,000 families are earning more income by working their land on a sustainable basis.  

Designed by the World Bank in partnership with the Government of Paraguay, the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Project (PRODERS) has transformed the lives of the country's most vulnerable rural communities. By adopting sustainable production practices, families now manage resources more efficiently and generate inclusive agri-food value chains, they are involved throughout the paddock-to-plate process stages. 

Accordingly, rural producers and indigenous communities are generating more income. "Families, by producing more and diversifying production, meet their food needs and sell their surplus," explains María Cristina Villalba, an agronomist.   

The lives of Paraguay's poorest families are also being transformed not only because of better and increased production and participation in the agri-food value chain but also because their quality of life has been improved because of having a better community organization. "This Project was a real eye-opener and made us step forward as an organization, as a community," says Floria Gonzalez, a farmer from San Juan, Caaguazú. 

In addition, small-scale farmers now produce and sell more at better prices. "It is a dream that has come true; today we are micro-entrepreneurs,"rejoices Antonio Vargas, an indigenous community leader.  

Training farmers and indigenous peoples in financial, business and production matters is critical because many of the poorest communities depend on agriculture, which, paradoxically, is one of the most effective economic sectors for eradicating rural poverty. 

"It is a dream that has come true; today we are micro-entrepreneurs "
Antonio Vargas
Indigenous community leader



Growing while Protecting the Environment 

The area of intervention of the plus 25,000 hectares funded by PRODERS are located in eastern Paraguay, a region endowed with rich biodiversity and great agricultural potential.  

It is imperative to think about the future and agriculture-driven growth in light of climate change. Addressing this aspect is key to prevent falling crop yields, especially in those regions around the world with greater food insecurity.  

"If the forest is gone, our identity as Aché People may be gone too. We learned that: The forest takes care of us, so we have to take care of it," mused Emiliano Mbejyvagy, leader and community advisor to this indigenous community.  

The future of the region depends on phasing out continuously environmentally damaging farming practices that deplete both flora and fauna. Therefore, making the communities work together with authorities and civil society organizations in preserving the nature is an indispensable component of the Project.  

Farmers in this region are indeed demonstrating that attaining a more sustainable rural development that improves the lives of the most vulnerable communities while protecting their natural capital is feasible.