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Producing Seeds of Change

Nelcy López (Seed Production Coordinator) inspects one of 23 seed production plots managed by our partner-farmers.

In 2018, just over 4,000 small-scale farmers planted Semilla Nueva’s biofortified seeds. This number tripled to over 12,000 farmers in 2021, and this year, over 20,000 farmers will plant our biofortified seeds, improving the nutrition of nearly 600,000 maize consumers. By 2026, 40,000 farmers will plant our seeds, feeding 1M consumers. Our long-term goal (2036) is for 3M farmers in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa to plant biofortified maize, feeding 100M annually.

Expanding our reach depends on intensive and constantly evolving annual seed production plans. In 2024, we are aiming to double our seed production. This goal means coordinating the production of 8,500 bags of seed on 225 acres cultivated by 23 small-scale partner farmers. It involves providing technical support for three partner seed companies responsible for producing and selling another 6,500 bags of our seed; and it requires ensuring the quality of seeds delivered to our network of over 100 agrodealers around the country. Our Seed Production Coordinator, Nelcy López, leads this critical work.

Nelcy is a graduate of Zamorano University—the leading agricultural university in Latin America. She joined Semilla Nueva after years of supervising large-scale agricultural production operations in Guatemala. “There aren’t a lot of women doing this kind of work in Central America,” she says. “But I love it! It shows others in the industry and the farming families we serve that women have important roles in agriculture.” 

When asked what she likes most about her work, Nelcy says she enjoys building relationships with the farmers who produce our seeds and knowing the impact our seeds will have on those who plant them. “In 2022, farmers already purchasing improved seeds earned an additional $147-$260 more when switching to our biofortified hybrids. Subsistence farmers using improved seeds for the first time saw their incomes increase by $277-$392 on average. Add to this the nutritional benefits of our seeds and their resistance to storms and drought, and I can go to sleep every night knowing that I am helping to make a real difference in my country.”