Location: Santa Isabela la Isla, Alta Verapaz
Family Size: 6
Benjamin's story: Mr. Benjamin Caal Sacul is a smallholder farmer from Santa Isabel la Isla, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. He was born in Ulpan, San Pedro Carchá, Alta Verapaz and has a family of six members. Mr. Caal Sacul is one of his community’s main producers and is dedicated to agro-ecological work. As a result of working with GFI’s Verapaz Action for Sustainable Agro-Industry (VASAI) program he has diversified his crops to include clove, achiote, banana, allspice, citrus, cocoa, cinnamon, sapodilla, rubber, and papaya. He now sells these crops on the local market, generating income for his family, and with market access training from GFI he hopes to start selling to buyers in Guatemala City. Working with GFI for the last year has allowed Mr. Caal Sacul to benefit from access to new, larger markets and use of innovative technology and agricultural procedures. These inputs have enabled Mr. Caal Sacul to provide food security for his family, to reach new markets with diversified products, and to pay for his children to go to school. By providing irrigation kits to indigenous farmers like Banjamin Caal Sacul, you can help GFI further this impact and provide more families with the opportunity for a more secure and prosperous future.
Benjamin Caal Sacul, like the other members of his indigenous Mayan community in Alta Verapaz, earns his living working the land. In this economically and geographically isolated region, there are few other options to earn a living. The economy in this region is largely agricultural, with most farmland owned by individual families. With little access to basic infrastructure, services, or economic opportunity, indigenous farmers in Verapaz, like Mr. Caal Sacul, continue to suffer the highest rates of poverty and malnutrition in Guatemala. GFI believes that focusing on immediate solutions alone cannot break this entrenched isolation and cycle of poverty. For GFI, poverty alleviation and food security are just the first steps toward the economic inclusion of millions of Guatemalan farmers, helping them achieve access to the rights, services, and resources necessary for a decent life. To achieve these goals, farmers must transition from subsistence farming to small-scale production and then to cooperative farming. Each stage of this development for small-scale farmers has specific barriers and potential interventions that can help the farmers improve their livelihoods. To address this, GFI plans to provide farm irrigation kits to indigenous farmers working as part of our programs in Alta Verapaz. Communities targeted by these programs produce sufficient food for their own use and for sale throughout the year but cannot break the cycle of poverty without inputs, such as irrigation kits, to help them reach a new level of production in an environmentally sustainable manner. With a small investment of $25 you can join GFI in helping indigenous farmers sell more at better prices, establish a competitive business legally recognized by the government, and attain the political representation to ensure needed services, inputs, and participation.
VASAI is a one-year program focused on small-scale farmers of the Alta Verapaz region in Guatemala. This region – composed primarily of indigenous Mayans – is particularly affected by climate change and political upheaval. Geographic and cultural isolation has resulted in an inevitable cycle of poor health and substandard education. With little access to basic infrastructure, services, or economic opportunity, indigenous farmers in Verapaz continue to suffer the highest rates of poverty and malnutrition in the country.
VASAI builds on the success of GFI's previous program in the region, the Verapaz Community Empowerment Program (VCEP). VCEP addressed the main development barrier to indigenous farmers in the region – unreliable agricultural production – by providing low-cost, easy-to-use irrigation equipment and targeted technical trainings on improved production, nutrition, farm management, and product sales. VASAI builds upon this success by leveraging the interventions and investments enabled through VCEP to serve an expanded set of farming communities and market opportunities throughout the Verepaz region.
VASAI works directly with 480 beneficiaries in the targeted communities to strengthen income generation and help them achieve greater economic and legal inclusion through specific trainings, assistance in accessing markets, and improved technology. Over 3,000 indigenous people in the neighboring communities benefit indirectly as a result of the program. The VASAI program is supported by the Swedish Postcode Lottery and is being implemented in partnership with Pastoral Social of Alta Verapaz.