Building on beekeeping to improve food security and income in rural Guatemala.
- Huehuetenango, Guatemala
- Partner since 2017
- 100 families
ACODIHUE is a cooperative of nearly 6,000 members in the northwestern department of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. The remote communities they serve include many indigenous villages primarily in the Cuchumatanes Mountain Range. Unlike some cooperatives that were established to market coffee, ACODIHUE began with a mission to reduce poverty and food insecurity, which makes the organization a natural partner for Food 4 Farmers.
The cooperative markets and sells coffee and honey. They manage a variety of programs including women’s empowerment, opportunities for young people, restoring and conserving fragile ecosystems, sustainable agricultural practices, and much more.
The highlands of Guatemala, including Huehuetanango, have one of the highest rates of food insecurity and malnutrition in the Americas. Nearly 70 percent of the 1.2 million inhabitants of the department live in poverty and a 2015 study found that 21 of 33 municipalities in the department had high rates of chronic malnutrition.
Food 4 Farmers conducted a community diagnostic with 200 members of ACODIHUE in 2017 to lay the groundwork for our long-term food security work together. ACODIHUE had established a beekeeping project in 2017 to complement a food security program. Participation has grown to include 90 women and men, but they have yet to fully integrate food security strategies and realize the potential of the program.
Food security programs are often focused on one strategy, but may not reflect rural economies, which are flexible and opportunistic. This means that implementing an income generating project like beekeeping — without a strategy for targeting the most lucrative markets, or investing that income to improve family welfare — often results in limited success.
ACODIHUE has had strong success in helping farmers realize the potential of beekeeping to boost income. The next step will be to leverage that work to improve access and utilization of food, two key pillars of food security. Our program has three objectives:
- Strengthen beekeeping by building on the skills of the current group of beekeepers, while recruiting new ones;
- Improve food access and utilization by establishing home gardens and other educational activities;
- Create a monitoring system and training protocol for coordinators and promoters so ACODIHUE can continue the work independently.
Community Highlight: Pedro Salucio Alvarado
Pedro is just 23, but aready has the soft-spoken air of a leader. He is one of 90 people (42 men and 48 women) in ACODIHUE’s beekeeping program in the community of Cabic, Petatan. Pedro looks forward to teaching local students about beekeeping and allay fears that many young people have around bees. He understands the importance of providing his family with healthy food, and sees great potential for honey production to generate income and build food security. Pedro currently manages 25 hives, with an ambitious goal to increase them to 100.