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The Rotary Global Grant: Fueling Semilla Nueva’s Next Phase into Self-Sufficiency


Jaime Quevedo from the Quetzaltenango Rotary Club volunteers with community seed distribution, May 2016

Semilla Nueva owes a great deal of its present success to Rotary. Rotary has been Semilla Nueva’s core source of support throughout the organization’s evolution, and without its generosity, the depth of Semilla Nueva’s growth in recent years would not have been possible.

Many members of our Board of Directors, Advisory Board, and other long-term support networks are also steadfast Rotarians. These kind individuals truly live by their motto, “service before self,” and continuously drive our work forward.

Rotary awarded Semilla Nueva its first Global Grant to empower farming communities in 2013, allowing the non-profit to double its capacity. Still in its infancy, the team was able to expand services to five additional farming communities along Guatemala’s southern coast. The subsequent 2014 Rotary Global Grant helped Semilla Nueva expand efforts to foster community leadership and scale solutions ranging from promotion of nutritious tree-spinach chaya to cessation of destructive field burning practices. This led Semilla Nueva to identify the technologies that had the highest impact potential in Guatemalan farming communities.

Now, after two years of preparation and trips across Guatemala and Idaho, Rotarians from the U.S. and Quetzaltenango have pooled their support to amass a grand total of $112,000 that will allow us to build upon the successes of the previous grants. This third Global Grant is instrumental in allowing Semilla Nueva to scale two high-impact agricultural technologies – protein-packed corn and income-boosting rice – that will improve rural livelihoods and combat malnutrition in partner communities. The grant will support Semilla Nueva and partner farmers in their efforts to sell biofortified seeds, which will create a sustainable means of access along the southern coast and beyond, and allow Semilla Nueva to become a financially sustainable organization.

Through the income generated by quick-growing rice—a technology introduced to Semilla Nueva by Experimental Farm Coordinator Noé Estrada– the team can expand the purchasing power of farming families. This rice, which includes a biofortified zinc variety, grows in flooded sections of land where farmers cannot grow other crops. Rotary will support Semilla Nueva in expanding this technology to our 25 partner communities, increasing the annual incomes of 250 farmer families by 10 to 20 percent!

The other focus of the project is Quality Protein Maize, the high-protein corn seed proven to improve childhood malnutrition in a culturally accepted, cost-effective way. Rotary is continuing to support Semilla Nueva field staff as they train over 1,000 families to save and replant open-pollinated variety QPM for future growing seasons. Rotarians also fuel Semilla Nueva’s efforts to produce high-yielding QPM and bring it to local markets, which create a system of affordable access to the high-nutrient seed. Rotary’s support provides Semilla Nueva with secure and sustainable funding for the project.

Thanks to the Rotary Global Grant, Semilla Nueva and partner farming communities can develop and sustain networks of access to biofortified crops, creating lasting food security, improving incomes, and reducing rates of malnutrition in Guatemala.


Rotary Club volunteers from Idaho and Quetzaltenango make our work possible

The entire Semilla Nueva team would like to recognize and extend gratitude to the following clubs for their contributions to this grant:

In Guatemala

  • Quetzaltenango

In Colorado

  • Fort Collins

In Idaho

  • Boise
  • District 5400
  • Boise Southwest
  • Pocatello-Gate City
  • Boise Metro Boise
  • Centennial
  • Pocatello-Portneuf
  • Rigby
  • Emmett
  • Boise East
  • Blue Lakes- Twin Falls
  • West Boise
  • Canyon County Sunrise
  • St. Anthony
  • Burley
  • Nampa
  • Ketchum-Sun Valley
  • Boise West
  • Caldwell
  • Boise Downtown
  • Canyon Country Sunrise
  • Eagle Garden City

The Semilla Nueva team also gives special thanks to the Rotary Clubs of Boise, Boise Southwest and Quetzaltenango for leading the fundraising and grant writing efforts. We are grateful for Kara Rousselle and Jaime Quevado, who helped make the grant come to fruition through hundreds of hours of work.

In addition, we acknowledge Kathleen Simko and the rest of our Board of Directors and Associate Board for their dedication and successful leadership of the 2015 Planting the Future Event, which made the Rotary Global Grant possible. The team looks forward to Planting the Future 2016!

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to the dozens of Rotarians who came out to the field to participate directly in our work!

Rotary funding has allowed Semilla Nueva to discover the agricultural technologies that work best in the fight to improve the lives of thousands of farming families in Guatemala, and the entire team looks forward to our continued collaboration.

Here’s to growing a better future for Guatemala’s next generation!

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