Friday, January 11, 2008

A Better Honduran Agricultural Reform

A farsighted 1992 reforestation effort that protected a region of Honduras against the brunt of 1998’s Hurricane Mitch. Will this make other Honduran farmers choose sustainable development?

By: Vanessa Uy

Hurricane Mitch is probably one of the worst storms that has able to hit Honduras in the past 100 years. The storm’s high death toll was caused primarily on the heavy rain’s effect on most of Honduras’ hillside slopes weakened by slash and burn farming methods. Illegal logging also made these slopes prone to landslides even on hurricanes of lesser strength.

But in some regions of the country, landslides with their accompanying death toll didn’t happen. Thanks to the 1992 reforestation efforts in Limpira and an educational campaign explaining the follies of slash and burn farming methods. Programs that introduce progressive agricultural techniques like crop diversification. Also by allowing trees to act as shades and windbreakers for cornfields lessens the rate of water evaporating from the soil thus minimizing the amount of water used for irrigation. The locals called it “Kisengual” farming technique in honor of the pre-Columbian tribal identity of the region. The Kisengual farming technique allows the farmers to increase their corn harvest. This allows them to use the surplus corn to feed their chickens and cows as opposed to buying commercial feeds.

Introducing the concept of bio-diversity to our agricultural practices makes it sustainable. This also allows small- scale farmers the hands-on experience of organic farming, agricultural products free from harmful chemicals and at an affordable price.

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