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The Roylances in Guatemala

Monday, January 25, 2021

Agriculture Report Jan 23, 2021 Bob's Report: We are working two different areas that are about two hours apart. One is in the Polochic Valley and the other is the Cahabon area, both are in the central mountains of Guatemala. Polochic Valley We are close to defining our programs in the Polochic Valley, where we are working with members of the Church who are struggling with subsistence living. We have already had a three-hour seminar on ways to improve production and marketing. The President of the Polochic District (contains seven Branches) is a large farmer and is very astute with issues regarding farming -- so it will be easy to work with them. Our aim is to triple the crop yields of a number of small farmers that are members of the Church. We have the program fairly well outlined and it will include a provision for them to save enough money to plant the next crop. In other words -- a sustainable program. The Church Welfare Department is currently involved in a nutritional study involving the children in the Polochic area. Their small stature and overall health condition have raised some concern about their diets. Our program should help alleviate some of the reasons for these problems. Cahabon area The Coban Mission President has encouraged us to work in the Cahabon area, to hopefully overcome past anti-Church sentiments (created by misdeeds of two missionaries 40 years ago.) There are several agriculture interventions associated with this area. They include: (1) Providing a 100 lb. bag of nitrogen fertilizer for some selected small farmers (could be 1,000 farmers) with a method that will require the farmer to fund the next crop on his own; (2) Provide some specially selected small farmers with Cardamon starts (a spice that grows well in the area) in order to establish a long-term cash crop; (3) Provide various avenues of instruction for the larger farmers. A Community Development Center will be set up, similar to the Centers that were very successful in Africa. The Center will administer the programs mentioned above. With sufficient funding, we will investigate providing some value-added operations to further improve the well-being of the farmers, such as setting up a Cardamon drying plant and/or a place where we can produce corn meal. The City of Cahabon is willing to provide us an amazing facility where we can administer the Community Development Center programs. Another possible intervention that could bring an added amount of prosperity is to help these farmers become certified under "safe food" marketing programs. This has just recently emerged as an issue and could be a great addition to our humanitarian package. A great deal of my time in the U.S., UK, Africa, Paraguay and Indonesia was spent helping the farmers become certified "safe food marketers" (GLOBAL G.A.P.). The individual that is over farming interventions in the Cahabon area has been out of town, so it has been difficult to establish a way forward. He will be available Monday. Cahabon is in a very isolated area, and there are no English speakers, to work with, so the Mayor is going to bring an English-speaking person from Coban to live with us -- which will be interesting. We have never been in this kind of a situation before, so we are anxious to see how this all works out. I have come to realize that I have to learn some Spanish. So, I have been spending quite a bit of time on that. Our first few days here in Cahabon have been involved in getting settled into our home. We are starting from scratch, which means we have had to buy all of our furniture, as well as a stove and refrigerator. Susan continues to charm the Kekchi people with her not-so-fluent Kekchi. It's fun to watch their eyes light up when she speaks in Kekchi. She is also lining up people to teach English. Everybody wants to learn English. This will definitely be the route to their hearts.

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