San Pedro Sula, Honduras. On November 5th, 2015, Raphael Ayestas from the iDE Honduras team gave a presentation on the current state of supplementary irrigation on cacao at the National Committee of Coffee Chain (Comité Nacional de Cadena de Cacao). The event, hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (Secretaría de Agricultura y Ganadería, SAG), is held every three months and serves as a platform for introducing new technologies and sharing best practices.
Mr. Ayestas explained to the audience how iDE’s innovative technologies, including low-pressure drip irrigation as well as the solar pump, have helped cacao farmers rescue their harvests in spite of the devastating drought brought on by climate change. The biggest advantage of iDE´s low-pressure drip system is that it is custom designed for each individual crop—one can install the emitters only where needed and therefore increase the net income per drop of water. A second feature worth highlighting is the fact that no expensive fuel pumps or filtration systems are required to make it function, since it is a low-pressure system.
Dr. Santiago Cerna is one cacao grower who has greatly benefitted from iDE’s technological strategies.
“I started growing cacao in 1986 on an old plot of land where coffee had been previously harvested—I planted 8,000 trees that year. By 2009 we had begun toasting, peeling, crushing, and mixing the seeds to obtain small chocolate taps for selling in Tegucigalpa’s biggest farmers’ market.”
However, Dr. Cerna began having issues with Choco-Cha, his cacao business, with an unexpected drought in 2012. “We were trying to save our little trees by irrigating with a backpack sprayer but even so, we lost about 30% of our crops.”
The following year, Dr. Cerna visited several institutions for guidance on how to deal with that year’s dry season, when he finally met iDE’s Productivity Manager Roque Almendares. “Mr. Almendares proved to be very resourceful and sent an engineer to our farm right away. He evaluated our plot and quickly came up with a solution—low-pressure drip irrigation. Thanks to iDE, we overcame the dry season and my dream of becoming a cacao farmer became a reality once again.”
Recently, iDE has conducted several successful interventions in other regions of Honduras including Monte de Sión, Atlántida. These farmers have witnessed the immediate positive impact of supplementary drip.
Unfortunately, these farmers, who have been working with FHIA (Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research) and the Canadian Development Agency (now DFATD), have not had access to credit to invest in irrigation systems. Nonetheless, iDE, together with its partners, facilitates credit services along with technical assistance on rainwater harvesting and irrigation. Hopefully these farmers in Atlántida will soon be as happy with their harvests as Dr. Cerna is with his.
University of Florida ’15
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences