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Guatemala: Farming for the Future, Project Update
Posted on: Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Farming for the Future was designed to establish pig farming as a source of food security and microenterprise for Indigenous Ixil women in El Quiché department in the Guatemalan highlands. Working in collaboration with our local partner, Muixil, MADRE has installed two communally-owned pens, provided pigs and feed, and trained women in animal husbandry, business management and human rights. These activities will improve community members’ diets by making a source of protein more readily available, and will provide a sustainable source of income as pigs are sold in local and national markets.
In the past year, MADRE and Muixil built two pens in the Quiché municipalities of Santa Maria Nebaj and San Gaspar Chajul. These pens are co-owned by 60 women and are home to an initial group of eight pigs purchased specifically for breeding.
Since they were first purchased, the pigs have grown to their full adult size and two have become pregnant (sows are generally mated when they are approximately eight months old). After about 105 days of pregnancy, these pigs will soon give birth to about 10 piglets each. As the life-span of pigs is typically between 10 and 15 years, and they can reproduce two times per year, this initial group of pigs could yield up to 1,200 piglets in the coming years. During the early stages of the project piglets will be given to other community members to raise, but as the project advances, pigs will be sold at markets so that women can use the proceeds to buy other needed supplies for their families. We will also continue to buy new pigs to breed with the initial group and their offspring.
In addition to building pens and providing pigs, MADRE and Muixil coordinated trainings for community members to learn from experienced pig breeders. Participants had opportunities to ask questions and gain a better understanding of what to expect throughout the breeding process. Trainings also covered business administration so that participants can work together to formulate plans for their breeding operations, and discussed Indigenous and women’s human rights so that participants can tie their personal experiences to a broader array of issues.
One of the early signs of success of this project is the overwhelming level of interest it has generated throughout the communities in which participants live. Many residents have asked to become members of Muixil in order to take part. In the coming years, MADRE plans to provide Muixil’s initial 350 members with the necessary skills and resources to operate communally-owned pig farms, and hopes to expand the project to reach other families within the Guatemalan highlands.