Freshly Cooked School Lunches (at public schools in El Salvador)

In 2010, the Ministry of Education in El Salvador undertook a project – Provision of Local Food, Education and Health – to start providing freshly cooked school lunches at public schools around the country. The goal of the project is to help women set up small businesses that provide school lunches, which then feed children…

Cutting Down Livelihoods

El Salvador. A country that’s situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire (prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions), where 50% of the rural population lives below the poverty line and there are huge rates of underemployment; 40% of Salvadorans are subsistence farmers, 21% are officially employed in agriculture (which accounts for 12% of the country’s…

Growing food among bus exhaust and asphalt

In a neighborhood on the east side of San Salvador, one man, a retired agricultural engineer, is growing food on the median strips between the paved roads that crisscross his city. Mr. Argueta cultivates onions, carrots, zucchini, peppers, and other vegetables on parcels of otherwise idle land around the his neighborhood. On the largest median…

G-20 Recommends Increasing Investments in Agriculture

The G20 is a group comprised of the top twenty largest economies in the world; together they account for 85% of the world’s production of goods and services; over 80% of the GDP and about 80% of the world trade, while accounting for about 65% of the world’s population. The members themselves are finance ministers…

Coconuts: A Sustainable Agricultural Industry?

The coconut, Cocos nucifera, is the sole species of the genus Cocos, a palm tree grown around the world for its fruit and fiber. The origin of the plant is still debated: some scientists believe the tree is from India or the Asia-Pacific region, while others contend they’re from South America. Either way, the tree…

Cheap Chinese Beans ~ Imported

In a bean-producing and bean-consuming country, smack in the middle of a bean-eating, bean-growing part of the world, beans are being shipped in from nearly 9,000 miles (14,000 km) away. And amazingly, despite the miles traveled from field to fork, these beans sell for 35-50 cents less per pound than locally grown beans. It was…

Organic Production is Growing in El Salvador

In a few small towns in the eastern part of El Salvador, in the Conchagua department, are growing their crops with homemade organic fertilizers. In a project begun by the Salvadoran Foundation for Social Promotion and Economic Development (Funsalprodese), small family farmers are using organic fertilizers made from cow manure, including bocashi and California Red…

Farming Cooperatives

The United Nations has declared that next year, 2012, will be the International Year of Cooperatives; since 1992, the first Saturday in July has been the International Day of Cooperatives. Worldwide, cooperatives directly employ over 100 million people, according to the UN. A cooperative is a business owned by a group of individuals, and the…

El Salvador Invests in Reducing Dependence on Imports

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is a foreign aid agency that aims to combat poverty around the world. A year and a half ago, they granted El Salvador $461 million – well, they granted the organization Fondo del Milenio de El Salvador (Fomilenio) the money, and that organization has committed to using the majority of…

A Culture of Corn (una cultura de maiz)

White corn dominates the markets here in El Salvador, and it is used primarily for tortillas, but also it is eaten corn-on-the-cob style, and even made into a drink, atol de elote. From 1960 to today, total corn production in El Salvador has risen from 200,000 metric tons annually to close to one million MT/year….

Aquaponicos de El Salvador

Last weekend I finally took a trip to Granja San Patricio, owned by progressive-minded brothers Rafael and Rodolfo Castillo. They have built the first commercial sized integrated aquaculture-hydroponic system in El Salvador, known as aquaponics. Their system is modeled after the oft-replicated system of Dr. James Rakocy, of the University of St. Croix. Rafael Castillo…