New research recommends targeted assistance and engagement with small farmers in rural Guatemala to improve livelihoods and reduce migration pressures.
Researchers from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, United States, and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Texcoco, Mexico, describe why it is important for technical assistance to build upon indigenous farming knowledge and include women if programs are to succeed in tackling poverty and hunger in rural, Mesoamerican communities. Their findings, describing recent work in the Guatemalan Highlands, are recently published in Nature Sustainability.
The ‘Milpa Demonstration Garden’ outside the genebank offices is flourishing this year. Planted and managed by the CIMMYT germplasm bank staff, this project has been providing color and charm at the El Batan campus through the late summer for several years.
The motivation for the project is to provide a talking point
that links the rigorous science of CIMMYT’s largely monoculture-based research
work with traditional Mesoamerican polyculture, known as milpa. Typically, the milpa agricultural system is centered on
three main crops – often termed the ‘three sisters’ – maize, beans and squash.