By: Wende Duflon, USAID/Guatemala
Dr. Shah and LAC Assistant Administrator, Mark Feierstein, were accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Stephen McFarland, USAID Guatemala Director, Kevin Kelly, and USAID staff on a visit to the village of Magdalena la Abundancia (Magdalene of Abundance) in the municipality of Sacapulas of the Quiché Department. The visitors were met by leaders of the ADIES (Sacapulas Association for Integrated Ecological Development), a small-scale producer group that forms part of the network of USAID agriculture value chain alliances that USAID has supported throughout Guatemala with our long-standing implementing partner, the Guatemala Exporters Association (AGEXPORT).
The successful agriculture value chain approach is a key cornerstone of the USAID Guatemala Feed the Future Strategy to reduce food insecurity and poverty. The value chain program enhances food access for rural populations by assisting small-scale agricultural producers to increase their incomes and improve family quality of life.
Magdalena la Abundancia is similar to thousands of other villages in the highlands of Guatemala in terms of the high poverty (51% of the Guatemalan population lives in poverty or extreme poverty) and high chronic malnutrition rates (nearly half, 43.4% of all children under five years old). It is within this context of scarcity that ADIES was formed and is thriving, thanks to their ability and determination to maximize on assistance received from USAID and AGEXPORT.
The ADIES president Manuel Tum welcomed Administrator Shah and his team to a celebration of their successes. The venue was the small concrete patio outside the simple processing and packing plant built in the middle of a field of export-quality onions. A brightly-colored plastic tarpaulin protected villagers and VIP visitors from the strong high-altitude sun and the floor was covered with the traditional greeting of pine boughs that scent the air as people walk over them. Villagers as young as a few months to 80 years old sat on plastic chairs or stood on the sidelines, many in colorful clothes, typical daily wear of this principally indigenous community.
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