Honduras - Building an Agriculture Value Chain and Developing Education Opportunities in Honduras
Olancho Aid Foundation
Education and Entrepreneurship
In Honduras, there is mass emigration with many individuals leaving the country in hopes of finding job opportunities elsewhere. Our partner, the Olancho Aid Foundation, works for Hondurans to “stay healthy, stay together, and the option to stay home.” The Olancho region of Honduras is primarily in the agriculture industry and, within that, cattle. Our goal was to create the cattle value chain to identify opportunities to raise family incomes and create job opportunities within the industry.
What did we do?
Our team traveled in-country to begin our project, as we switched the week prior due to safety concerns and political violence in Colombia where our original partner was based out of. In-country, we traveled across the Olancho department, visiting nearly 15 farms, 2 dairy processing plants, 1 meat processing plant, the local agriculture university (UNAG), and the Chamber of Commerce in Juticalpa. Through these interviews and conversations, we developed the value chains, breaking it into both dairy and beef components. Through our assessment of the value chain and our interview information, we determined forward integration was not possible due to barriers to entry for beef and lower returns for dairy. This led us to identify opportunities within farming operations to increase revenue for farmers through enhanced techniques and minimizing costs. The three most common issues facing farmers across the region included: rising fertilizer costs, lack of rain for crops, and lack of training. This led us to assess the following three opportunities:
- Utilize manure as natural fertilizer to reduce cost from chemical fertilizer
- Install irrigation to reduce reliance on rain for watering fields
- Provide technical training to farmers on a bi-weekly basis
What was the recommendation?
Utilizing manure is not feasible, as cattle produce only 4% of the required volume of manure to make this a sustainable option. That 4% also assumes the farmer could collect 100% of manure produced, which is also highly unlikely.
Installing irrigation appears to be a reasonable solution, with an investment cost of approximately 75,000 Honduran Lempira (~$3,000) per manzana. There have been previous investments made by few farmers in this price range and beyond when the farmer was part of a cooperative.
Education of farmers appears reasonable as well, as Heifer International already hosts some training in the area, but only once every four months. All farmers that were interviewed were interested in training sessions, ranging in content from artificial insemination to nutrition to genetics, all to increase the productivity of their cattle.
Ultimately, our partner’s core competency is education, so we believe training farmers would be best aligned with our partner’s ability. However, we seek to expand this beyond technical training and to include financial literacy as well. Financial literacy education would include budgeting/personal finance, as well as identifying investment opportunities and maintaining financial records for accessing loans. These areas would help mitigate the rising costs of fertilizer and increase access to loan opportunities.
Further, we would like to expand this education program into high school curriculums by instituting internship opportunities for students in the agriculture industry. This may help enhance future generations of agriculture leaders and workers to optimize farming production.
The next steps for OAF include:
- Identify and assess possible partnerships in providing training to farmers
- Assess the demand for internship opportunities
- Minimize challenges in providing internships for high school students