Revista Granito de Arena

Milpa System program seeks to improve small farmers’ harvests

Programa Milpa cempro cementos progreso disagro guatemala
The Sistema Milpa program consists of training and technical assistance processes, for small corn producers in San Juan Sacatepéquez’s communities.

The initiative, led by Planta San Gabriel’s social management unit with technical support from AgroProgreso, is aimed at improving small farmer’s productivity in the region while preserving cultural practices for corn and basic grain harvesting.

As part of the program, a demonstration plot is provided to each benefited family for corn, beans, and ayote squash production.

Each beneficiary is provided with a technological package, focused on increasing the harvest’s quality and productivity, promoting cultural relevance, and the use of native seeds that the communities have cultivated for generations, thus ensuring basic grains for families throughout the year.

As a requirement to qualify for the program, beneficiaries must participate in all scheduled training and field visits, thus ensuring knowledge acquisition of agricultural practices for basic grain production.

Nothing stops us

Despite the pandemic, the program has had the total number of participants follow all biosecurity protocols. Participating communities include: Pilar 2, Pajoques, Trojes 1 & 2, Lo de Ramos, Santa Fe Ocaña, among others.

Corn is the most consumed staple grain in Guatemala. It’s main form of consumption is the «tortilla» which is made at home from whole grain. The “tortilla” is the foundation for most Guatemalan Family meals, consuming an average of 114 kg per person per year (2.5 quintals). However, this value can double and, in some cases, even triple, depending on a family’s economic income.

In Guatemala, corn is considered a crop for self-consumption. Its production is mostly conceived as being of «social» rather than of economic importance. This is a result of the grain being produced by farmers with limited access to technological innovation and in rural areas with low productivity. This situation negatively affects the crop’s yield potential.

The «Sistema Milpa» program seeks to improve crops and provide food and nutritional security to benefited families.

Cultural Heritage

Corn is a very important crop because it is the foundation of the Guatemalan population’s diet. That is why the Ministry of Sports and Culture declared it as part of Guatemala’s National Cultural Heritage, through Ministerial Agreement 767-2011.

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