Late in 2011, we established a new program that became a huge victory. Enlisting 30 families to grow 100 square foot parcels of pigeon peas, or gandul, we encouraged farmers to experiment with their own ideas and pruning techniques to improve crop yields. Each farmer was able to determine which techniques they felt would bring the highest yield. Growing Pigeonpea is common in Africa and India, but these high-yielding low-elevation varieties had yet to be tried in Guatemala.
At the end of the season, the goal was to harvest an equivalent of 10 bushels of pigeon peas per acre. We were stunned that several farmers, through their own innovations, harvested double that: an equivalent of 20 bushels per acre!
Both Semilla Nueva staff and Guatemalan farmers were thrilled with the yields. As a result of this successful experiment, farmers are sharing with each other the techniques that worked and the ones that don’t for the next season. In fact, many are planting in the off-season so that they can increase their seed quantity for the growing season.
This program offers huge potential for improving the lives of these Guatemalan families. Harvesting pigeon peas at these crop yields translates into an additional $600 in profit per acre, which could be the difference of sending several children to school. This program is just one way our supporters are inspiring true change through Semilla Nueva.