Heatwaves and Droughts Complicate Farming in Honduras
What NPH Honduras' farmers are doing to ensure a productive season despite droughts and high temperatures.
March 15, 2019 - Honduras
The relationship between agriculture and health is an important one, as agriculture provides us with the resources we need to produce food, create shelter, and sustain the economy. At NPH Honduras, we focus our efforts on making the most of our 12 hectares of land to offer our kids the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong.
Recurrent droughts and unusually high seasonal temperatures, however, are affecting the country right now, making this one of the most challenging seasons for agricultural production in recent years.
“This year we’ve produced a good amount, but not enough to meet our goal, which is to produce enough to cover the home’s consumption rate,” says NPH Honduras Farm Director Yonis Raudales.
Two years ago, Honduras was hit with a southern pine beetle infestation that devastated its forests, particularly in the highest mountains, where most of the country’s natural water is produced.
“The plague is more or less gone and the forests have been recuperating, but the damage was done.”
With fewer trees, the water supply dipped and temperatures rose. These last few months have been some of the hottest and driest that the country has seen in many years. And with natural water supplies dwindling, many are worried about the effects on farms across the county.
“[Honduras] is not prepared to deal with this because we would need a lot more water. The national producers don’t have this quantity and the variety of seeds they are planting require very specific conditions, especially a good water supply.”
“The challenge here [at NPH Honduras] is that we’re located in an area that doesn’t have a steady water supply. We count on our dams to collect water in winter and supply during droughts in March and April, but this year we haven’t had much rainfall. This year is going to be one of the hottest seasons that we’ve experienced. If it rains in May we’ll be able to survive, but if it doesn’t, we’re going to have some serious problems.”
As with any environmental issue, this drought has significant consequences on the local economy.
“Many people, because of the shortage of water, the price of produce, and a lack of economic opportunity, are leaving. Personally, I know many farmworkers who have left for the United States and Spain.”
But despite the environmental concerns and economic challenges, Yonis remains hopeful. Having worked on his family’s farm since the age of 12, he’s witnessed several seasons come and go and knows firsthand that there’s always a possibility for a brighter future.
By reducing the home’s water consumption, continuing to collect water through dams and aquifers, enriching the soil to plant more crops, and harvesting the summer’s food supply during the spring, he’s sure that we’ll make it through this difficult period.
As for his personal goals, Yonis envisions implementing new initiatives that will help us drive up food production to meet the home’s needs. He also wants to continue participating in some of NPH Honduras’ other projects, such as our community scholarship program, which provides education to youth in rural communities.
“I feel like I'm a representative of the communities at NPH.”
“My relationship with NPH began seven years ago when I came looking for support for community scholarships. Since then we’ve created a program in the communities dedicated to education through the NPH community services department.”
In exchange for NPH’s involvement in his community’s development, Yonis started volunteering on the farm three years ago, and took on his current position last year.
“More than anything I’ve had new experiences, learned new things, and shared. You can feel the connection that NPH has with the community and the support we have for each other. NPH is part of the community.”