Diagnosis of communities in times of COVID-19 in Honduras

By Diana Giraldo and Diego Obando (University of Reading, UK and Bioversity – CIAT/CCAFS)

On Wednesday, April 14, 165 people from different institutions of the agri-food sector in Honduras came together virtually to know the climate forecast for the Primera sowing cycle (May-June-July), through the Agri-Food Information Service (INFOAGRO), in coordination with the Permanent Commission on Contingencies (COPECO-CENAOS) and the support of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG), Mauricio Guevara, who stressed that climate forecasts combined with agricultural calendars are a valuable planning tool to guide farmers. Also, he indicated that the farmers must diversify risk, and not bet everything on a single crop in the Primera cycle.

The perspective of the climate presented by CENAOS is favourable for the national agricultural production for this Primera cycle, with rain conditions close to the climatological average. This year the Canícula is expected to be shorter and less intense compared to the previous year.

The CIAT team under the ResCA project carried out an initial diagnosis of the communities involved in the project through telephone calls to a group of farmers, to learn about their concerns and prospects for this Primera planting season in times of COVID-19.  The results and monitoring of the situation, it will help us to rethink and reinforce the work with our farmers that responds to the enormous challenge that COVID-19 puts on the rural sector, and the agri-food system, to guarantee supply in the coming months.

Some of the tasks in the implementation of processes such as Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) given the preliminary analysis of the diagnostic results shown below are:

  1. agricultural practices (as gardens);
  2. knowledge of decision-making processes in crisis conditions to meet immediate needs;
  3. differentiated climate services by type of farmer, and
  4. digitisation modules of the agriculture hand in hand with extension services.
Photo 2. A farmer in Intibucá - Honduras, drawing his current resource allocation map and dreamed of PICSA

Some testimonies

The situation we are experiencing is complicated; there is no money income because we cannot go out to work, and here you live from day to day. Thank God we still have maize and beans, but don’t have vegetable seeds to make a garden.

Man farmer in Intibuca

Grains such as maize, beans, and maicillo are rising in price; rice and sugar are becoming scarce, and, due to lack of transportation, it is difficult to supply the community. In my family, we have stored grains that I planted last year.

Woman farmer in Choluteca

We suspended group meetings and all community activities, taking measurements and raising awareness to others, our biggest concern is that we don’t know when it will stop and can end everything. The prices of inputs, the basic basket will be high, and we will not be able to sow in the first season… it can be a very strong crisis

Man farmer in Intibuca

As for food, we are not concerned that we are missing anything for now. We have our cows, chickens and other products that we grow in each home.

Man farmer in Intibuca