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Honduras: Field Schools - Training for smallholder farmers

San Jeronimo-Comayagua.-  With the aim to technically strengthen and improve production for smallholder farmers of the P4P programme, on this day Miguel Barreto, representative of the World Food Programme in Honduras and Jacobo Regalado, the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock awarded 140 graduation diplomas to smallholder farmers from the departments of Comayagua and Intibucá.

Under the modality of Field Schools the programme includes comprehensive methodology training and agricultural extension, based on the concept of learning by doing for participants who are all members of smallholder producer organizations. Participants exchange knowledge based on experience and investigation through simple methods and participation, using the cultivation of maize and beans as learning and teaching tools and also by linking inclusive gender issues.
Under this strategy WFP through the Purchase for Progress Programme (P4P) has allocated funds from the Howard G. Buffet Foundation for approximately U.S. $ 500,000 (L.10 million) to promote Good Agricultural Practices and Manufacturing Initiatives to smallholder farmers from 23 organizations that benefit from the project and other neighboring organizations, through 140 Field Schools nationwide.
Students of Honduras field schoolIn Comayagua and Intibucá 10 Field Schools in total have been established: 3  in the municipalities of San Jerónimo, Comayagua; 2 in the town of El Rosario, Comayagua; and 5 in the town of Jesús de Otoro, Intibucá. A total of 140 smallholder farmers - 28 women and 112 men -  participated in intense training during 7 months of two production cycles: during the first maize production, which lasted from June until the postrera month (second harvest) in September; and with bean production, which spanned from September until the postrera in January.
Smallholder farmers were trained in soil conservation, preparation and use of organic fertilizers, seeding and fertilizing, weed control, pest and disease control, in addition to participating in field trips to identify pests and diseases, drip irrigation and its components, and developments during the harvest and post-harvest season.
By 2013, a similar investment of an additional L.10 million lempiras is expected under the same methodological structure. This would expand WFP’s network to reach more beneficiaries through over 150 Field Schools focused on issues of Administration and Rural Finance, Access and Management of Credits, gender and youth.
As part of the diversification and grain marketing strategy in Honduras, throughout 2010 - 2012 WFP has acquired over 22 thousand metric tons (440 million pounds) of maize and beans directly from Honduran smallholder farmers which are then used in programmes implemented in Honduras. With WFP’s own funds and funding from the government P4P food is used in the National School Meals, Support for Vulnerable Groups, Conditional Food Transfer/Agricultural Development, and WFP’s Emergency Response and Rehabilitation during Natural Disasters programmes.
The P4P project currently supports over 11,000 bean and maize smallholder farmers in seven departments (Olancho, El Paraíso, Yoro, Comayagua, Lempira, Intibucá and Ocotepeque). Investment in equipment, supplies, grain dryers, infrastructure and training conducted by the Purchase for Progress Project in recent years totals over 198 million Lempiras, with the support from WFP, the European Union and the Howard Buffet Foundation of the United States.