Father and Son, Working Together to Grow Their Family's Future
Iddy Cinto’s earliest memories are of working side-by-side with his father, learning how to plant and harvest on their farm in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. They have faced many challenges. Years of drought and crop failure have caused extreme food insecurity and economic hardships. Guatemala has the highest rate of stunting, the impaired growth and development in children who suffer from poor nutrition, in the Western Hemisphere. This, compiled with a lack of economic opportunities, leads many to irregularly migrate. Despite this, Guatemala has tremendous potential for expanding its agricultural production, creating economic growth and alleviating poverty. Iddy, now 21 years old, is part of the solution. He and his father continue to work together on their farm, now using improved agricultural techniques, modern farming technology and taking into account nutrition as they plant their fields.
USAID’s Feed the Future Guatemala Innovative Solutions for Agricultural Value Chains Project, works with 25,000 small-scale farmers, like Iddy and his father, to improve their farming skills through training and access to modern agricultural technology. USAID reduces poverty by promoting the adoption of organic fertilizers and the use of biological products for controlling pests and diseases. This increases farmers’ yields, creating economic gains and improving nutrition.
In high school, Iddy focused on his studies with the dream of a higher education in agriculture to improve his family’s well-being. After graduating, he and his father invested their savings in a small greenhouse to grow tomatoes, knowing that they were a profitable crop. Even with their investment and hard work, they did not have the technical agricultural skills needed to succeed and they struggled with pests and diseases, only producing around 8,000 pounds of tomatoes for their efforts.
Frustrated but still determined, in 2019 they attended a USAID event in their community where they learned about sustainable agricultural technologies that improve yields. Iddy and his father were inspired and took advantage of training opportunities on technical skills like irrigation and environmentally friendly fertilizers, while also learning about the importance of balanced nutrition and how to improve their household to be more hygienic. A key component of their training was also on financial literacy, increasing the inclusion of all household members on how they save and spend their resources.
USAID’s work in increasing agricultural skills has resulted in improved livelihoods for over 7,300 young farmers. USAID continues to focus on agricultural technical skills, gender equality and social inclusion to empower Indigenous young women and men to become active members in their communities. This work increases agricultural incomes, improves resilience and enhances nutritional outcomes for farmers and their families. Exposing young farmers to agricultural innovation provides opportunities for prosperity in their communities and makes agriculture a sustainable livelihood.
Iddy and his father have particularly noticed the improvements that come with the use of biological products to control pests, diseases and to improve soil nutrition. “Chemical inputs can be toxic. Biological products are a better option for my crops, the health of my family and the health of the consumer,” Iddy proudly commented. With these improvements, Iddy and his father increased their tomato yield from 8,000 pounds to an incredible 15,000 pounds, a value of $3,900. With the extra income, they are improving the family’s quality of life and investing in their farm. Iddy has not given up on his dreams of higher education. His plan is to continue to improve his skills and attend university to become an agricultural engineer. As a young Indigenous grower, Iddy is no stranger to challenges. His experiences and perseverance have made him a role model for other people in his community, motivating them to take control of their own futures.