How do men and women farmers treat nutrition in Honduras?

A group consisting of six INGENAES members began the process of strengthening the integration of nutrition education into extension services of PILARH OPDF and MANSURCOPAN Mancomunidades in the Dry Corridor. Dr. Juan Andrade leads the research and strengthening activity, with graduate students from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and University of Florida (UF) – Jennifer Lotton, Liz Sloffer, and Katie McNamara – along with Katy (Heinz) Mosiman (Communications) and Liz Ramos (In-country Coordinator).

The aim is to understand the nutrition knowledge, attitudes and practices of vulnerable, rural, low-income, and/or farming households from the perspectives of both the male and female heads of each household. This diagnostic step with beneficiaries of agricultural extension service institutions will help guide INGENAES efforts towards incorporation of nutrition and gender concepts into the training of agricultural agents and facilitators. Below are some snapshots showing the beginning of surveying households in three rural communities.

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One farmer overlooks his 2.5 acres of diversified crops planted largely on a mountainside, including plantains, coffee, nance, pears, maize, and yuca (cassava). For this organic producer, his ability to get organic certification and connect to the best local and international markets, especially for coffee, as well as the high degree of diversity and production are due to his own labor and his relationships with extensionists from PILARH, a regional development NGO.

San Pedro de Copan - 1 - Lotton

A rural farmer completes the set INGENAES surveys consisting of the Food Security Coping Strategies, the household dietary diversity, and the KAP questionnaires with Katie McNamara (graduate student, University of Florida), which measures what precisely he and his household might know about proper nutrition and the health and sanitation that surrounds nutrition, such as basic concepts on Vitamin A and iron deficiency, as well as the Honduras Dietary Guidelines, and habits with everyday cleaning and drinking water.

8.12.16 - Lettuce and maize - Mosiman

Lettuce gets irrigation to stay strong during the growing season alongside other lettuces, herbs, maize, coffee, oranges, and plantains, all of which the farm family eats in season. More diverse farms often mean healthier soil and plants, as well as more nutrients available to the farm household.

8.11.16 - Interviews - Mosiman

Jennifer Lotton (UIUC) and Katie McNamara (UF) conduct and interview with a woman who is the head of her household.

8.10.16 - Beehives - Mosiman

The region also produces honey from bees that drink nectar from and pollinate many different kinds of flowers, including the coffee flower, providing a good source of income and a sweet touch to prepared foods. Both freestanding beehives like these and small beehives that hang from front porch roofs allow men and women to participate in the honey making process.

8.12.16 - Household garden - Mosiman

Backyard and kitchen gardens like the one in the photo (above) make adding healthy herbs like cilantro, delicate lettuces and  maize to meals convenient, which help rural families reach proper nutrition. Also in the photo is Katy Mosiman (UIUC) getting ready to conduct an interview.

8.12.16 - Kitchen garden - Mosiman

One woman and mother near San Pedro de Copan utilizes her kitchen garden to produce carrots, red and white onions, lettuce, maize, beans, and rice. Her carrots are doing marvelously.

This effort will ultimately inform several regional and national agricultural extension organizations on what is and is not working in nutrition education, and what the greatest needs are in each community in order to strengthen the nutrition components of their services for men and women farmers.

All photos were taken by Katy Mosiman and Jennifer Lotton 2016

Abbreviations: PILARH (Proyectos e Iniciativas Locales para el Autodesarrollo Regional de Honduras); MANSURCOPAN (Mancomunidad de Municipios del Sur de Copan).