This project seeks to diversify the ways Mayan women make money from sustainable activities. “Strengthening value chains for products made by women in Panimaquito” promotes traditional weaving, mushroom cultivation, and home gardens and orchards. Through the work, communities are better-nourished and have increased capability to handle climate-related changes.
800 in target community, half of them women
Sub-products from plantations provided $45,000 in income over five years
The ethnic Mayan community of Monjas Panimaquito, located within a cloud forest corridor between two protected areas in Guatemala, suffers from extreme poverty. Panimaquito also faces threats of flood, drought, and frost made more frequent by climate change. Villagers carry out subsistence farming of maize and beans. Furthermore three-quarters of the population there is chronically malnourished. A drop in food availability – a potential consequence of climatic change – could mean life or death.
In the first stage of the project, a women’s committee was formed to create family orchards and vegetable gardens, weaving traditional Mayan clothing with backstrap looms, and cultivation of oyster mushrooms. Panimaquito women made money by selling traditional clothing and mushrooms outside of their community. The project is now trying to resume and enhance the women’s efforts, and make them sustainable in the long-term, seeking to add value to and look for new markets for the products.
Helping the planet
Community activities have decreased dependency on forest-based resources, contributing to the preservation of protected areas. This supports biodiversity and fends off climate change while enhancing the ecosystem’s capacity to produce pure water and clean the air.
Maintenance of vegetable gardens and family orchards supplements the community’s nutrition and makes for a more resilient food base in the case of climatic events. Additional income generated from weaving and mushroom sales has diversified livelihoods and made family incomes more stable.
Proven success can inspire neighboring communities that share similar conditions to replicate the efforts, especially in development of local products for external sale. The skills acquired by the women of Panimaquito can be shared with women from the surrounding communities, also on a “farmer-to-farmer” basis. The planned establishment of a micro-finance mechanism intends to make the project sustainable and expandable in the long run.
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