Semilla Nueva - New Seed

Growing out of Malnutrition



Guatemala has the highest rate of malnutrition in the western hemisphere, and 4th highest in the world. Over half of children under 5 in Guatemala are expected to experience stunted growth due to this situation, affecting their physical, emotional, and mental development. The primary cause is the lack of access to nutritious food and nutritional education in rural areas, aggravated by the poor nutritional value of corn tortillas and a more than doubling of bean prices since 2008.

But there is an empowering and sustainable solution— reconnect the farm and the family, helping families to grow their own nutritious crops for consumption in the household. Through our community food security groups, we focus on easily grown nutritious crops and cooking workshops, helping families produce and incorporate new foods into their diet. To truly make the program sustainable, we focus on new varieties of traditional crops which complement rather than compete with families’ cash crops, ensuring they don’t have to decide between their income and their family’s nutrition. Once these groups see the benefit in their children and in income saved, we utilize our farmer to farmer methodology to help these groups pay it forward and train the rest of their community.


Our community food security groups are currently working with three innovations:

Quality Protein Maize is a non-GMO corn variety that has been bred to be a complete protein with 90% of the protein of milk. Studies have proven that given average consumption of corn in tortillas by Guatemala’s children, simply changing from normal corn to QPM can provide the protein necessary to grow1.
Pigeonpea is a highly nutritious traditional bean. It can be grown between the rows of other crops without decreasing their harvests. It provides more than enough beans than a family needs, and the excess can be sold locally.
Chaya, or tree spinach, is a native tree that can grow in difficult coastal conditions, without irrigation or fertilizer. Thirty chaya leaves have more protein than an egg and double the nutrients of spinach. Farmers can plant the tree as a food fence around their home or field, providing a sustainable and easy source of rich food.

Hear families share their accomplishments in this video:

1FAO: Quality Protein Maize

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