Knowledge Key to Unlocking New Income Sources
Oscar Mejia lives with his wife and three children on a small farm in the rural community of La Reina, Protección, Santa Bárbara. Five years ago Mejia lost a tomato crop, for which he had taken out a loan to buy inputs.
“When I saw the tomato leaves becoming withered I thought I had intoxicated the plants with pesticides and I decided just to wait to see what happened,” he said.
He did not sell any fruit and had to sell a parcel of land to pay back the $600 loan. Mejia did not know that the withering of the leaves was caused by a virus.
Based on this negative experience, he was doubtful about trying again, but decided to participate in ACCESS to Markets field training events in basic production practices, including pest and disease prevention and control. He made some improvements to his 0.35 hectares of coffee and to his corn and bean crops grown for home consumption.
In late 2014, after seeing early promising results, Mejia decided to try again and installed a drip irrigation system for 0.13 hectares of tomato production. His first harvest totaled just over 4,700 kilograms, which he sold to local wholesalers for a profit of $1,200.
“At that point, I immediately decided to continue planting as I saw that the training and practices had worked,” he said. “When the ACCESS to Markets technicians first visited us we had our doubts about vegetable production, but once we started with the new production practices, we decided that we could try again.”
The next tomato planting was 0.12 hectares, and yields increased to over 7,000 kilograms with a net income of $1,700. At the same time, he harvested and sold 500 kilograms of dried coffee for $470 in income, and added $580 from corn and bean surplus production. The family earned additional income from coffee harvesting and livestock sales.
Overall the family achieved $5,028 in net income in one year from these multiple income sources, representing a 40 percent increase over their 2014 income. With five members in the family, this averages $2.76 per person per day, putting the family above the official poverty line level solely from their agricultural activities.
With commitment, the Mejia family is an example of how positive results can be achieved for the benefits of the household and eventually the wider community.
Agriculture is the main economic driver in the rural communities. ACCESS to Markets is enabling households to learn the skills and technologies to improve production practices, develop market-led production programs, and improve yields, to increase and maintain household incomes. The activity is increasing the incomes of 15,000 poor and extreme poor households in western Honduras.