Indigenous communities throughout Central America have historically been victims of an institutionally structured process of marginalization. Over countless years, these communities have seen social and political rights withheld and were often targets of human rights abuses during the 1980s. To address the many challenges of Sololá’s indigenous farmers, GFI has launched a community-based initiative designed to empower farming communities through improved agricultural production, market access and finance opportunities to help expand economic opportunity. The Sololá Agro-Industry Initiative (SAII) is designed to strengthen economic opportunity for indigenous agricultural producers and break down existing barriers faced by small-holder organic farmers by creating links to higher value, more sustainable markets. Additionally, the SAII program uses a robust multi-stakeholder engagement process to ensure that the voice and participation of the indigenous Mayan communities of Sololá are included in larger economic decision making within Guatemala’s agricultural development agenda.
SAII is working with both smallholder farming communities and large buyers. Training and capacity building focuses on improving farming inputs and promoting skills and practices that address productivity, quality, and value. While all training modules are developed in partnership with the community, trainings will be designed around environmental and economic best practices and decent work standards in the agricultural sector. SAII is working to connect farming communities with larger buyers and secure transfer of knowledge through successful business contracts. Trainings could potentially adapt to buyer requirements without compromising labor or environmental standards.
GFI's Guatemala Country Director, Jessica Yarrow, has been in Guatemala since 1997 working for human rights organizations supporting local initiatives to improve labor rights, access to justice, economic development and to end human trafficking. She also has experience interpreting and translating for visiting funders and academic groups. With GFI Jessica will provide insight and manage our current projects in Guatemala. She holds a master’s degree in International and Intercultural Management from the School for International Service and a B.A. in Spanish/Latin American Studies from American University in Washington, DC.
Visit soon to learn more about the SAII program activities and milestones