Alliance to Help Guatemalan Farmers Earn More and Improve Nutrition

By Amanda Cooper

Many of our efforts to promote and advance sustainability demonstrate our belief that individuals, companies, communities, and organizations can achieve more working together than apart. This belief demonstrates itself through our working environment, volunteerism program as well as our grantmaking programs. In a recent press release, USAID and Mercy Corps announced our involvment in the public-private alliance to work together to improve the lives of small-scale farmers and thier families in Guatemala. Below is an exceprt from the press release put out by USAID and Mercy Corps:

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps are pleased to announce  the addition of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) and Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) in an alliance to improve the lives of small-scale farmers and their families in Guatemala. The alliance, known as the Inclusive Market Alliance for Rural Entrepreneurs (IMARE), is part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Presidential Initiative that supports Guatemala’s “Zero Hunger Pact” to significantly reduce the high rates of poverty and chronic malnutrition that characterize the Western Highland region of the country.

The public-private alliance supports community-based interventions that allow rural agriculture producers to overcome barriers and access larger commercial markets. Evidence demonstrates that this support enables small scale farmers to increase their household food and nutritional security.

“We have seen the power of this alliance create tremendous opportunities for small-scale farmers to become productive and prosperous entrepreneurs,” said Peter Loach, Mercy Corps Country Director for Guatemala. “We are thrilled to be able to expand this project to now meet the needs of vulnerable coffee producers and their families in the region.”

According to a United Nations World Food Program study, Guatemala has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition in Latin America and the fourth highest in the world. Rural small-scale farmers in Guatemala face multiple obstacles to access profitable markets for their products and often lack the tools and knowledge to improve their family’s nutrition. This alliance uses a multi-pronged approach that not only tackles rural poverty but also raises community awareness around the importance of a diversified diet and good nutrition practices.

“GMCR is a believer in the power of public-private partnerships and their ability to enlist needed resources to overcome some of the developing world’s greatest challenges. We are pleased to join USAID in supporting this Mercy Corps project in Guatemala that seeks to provide small-scale coffee farmers with better market access as they attempt to diversify their sources of income,” said Rick Peyser, GMCR’s Director of Social Advocacy and Supply Chain Community Outreach.

The three-year grant from GMCR will expand the alliance to work with 500 coffee farming families to improve nutrition as well as agricultural production and business management techniques. Farmers will participate in tailored educational sessions on safe handling of pesticides, use of new varieties, seed spacing, water and social conservation, and best practices for storage and handling. They will also receive training and technical assistance in nutrition, climate change and gender balance as a best practice.

GMCR’s financial support also helps leverage matching funds from USAID’s Global Development Alliance for public-private partnerships. According to Mark Visocky, Director of the Office of Economic Growth at USAID Guatemala, “the alliance with GMCR brings substantial resources to bear in Guatemala for the Feed the Future Initiative and brings us all closer to the goal of reducing chronic malnutrition and poverty in the Western Highlands. USAID Guatemala welcomes and encourages new alliances with the private sector to assist the people of the Western Highlands escape the cycle of poverty and malnutrition that has plagued the region for decades.”

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