The Third Time’s the Charm

by Ryan LeMier

What would you do if you found out that your main source of income to put food on the table for your kids had just fallen through for the next six months? For Jose Armando Peña, a small farmer in Honduras, this was a reality in the summer of 2016. After the corn he had planted in his field failed to grow because of pest damage, he was forced to replant the entire field. After the second planting failed, Don Peña was left without money for additional seeds to plant.

Jose Armando Peña and his wife, Catalina Martinez, have 9 children together. He has always worked hard to provide for his family, farming his land to grow corn and beans while also working 4 days a week as a laborer making $2-4 per day when there were opportunities.

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Don Peña looking up at his land.

Don Peña’s land is more hilly and rocky than most TCP-Vecinos farmers, meaning that replanting is a very labor-intensive, uncomfortable undertaking. (See the photo to the left.)

 

 

 

With the support of the TCP-Vecinos program, Don Peña was able to replant his field a third time with a traditional native corn seed, especially good for its drought-resistant qualities. The type of seed is not easily available. This time the corn grew, ensuring that he and his children will have food for the coming months.

Roy Lara, the Honduran agronomist leading the TCP-Vecinos program, told us, “What motivated me most was Don Peña’s faith, the love he has for his land, and his spirit to continue fighting although he was deeply disturbed about losing his corn crop twice. He was motivated to plant again and again to produce food for his family. Now he hopes to increase the productivity of his land through using environmentally-sustainable methods free from the practices of slash-and-burn and chemical fertilizers and pesticides.”

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Don Jose Peña and Catalina Martinez, grinding chili peppers, black pepper and garlic to make a liquid organic pest and disease repellent.

In September 2016, Roy took Don Peña to attend a workshop led by farmers in another TCP community. There he saw the successful harvests from long-time and new TCP farmers and learned to make affordable organic pesticides to prevent future crop loss. “I am grateful for the opportunity to learn so much and excited for the day that I can share my experiences with my neighbors and other communities and teach them in return.” said Don Peña.

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