Aiming to promote local opportunities for sustainable income for youth, Partnering for Innovation is currently investing in Guatemalan youth, both male and female producers through the AgriJoven project. AgriJoven is implemented in the western highlands by Mercy Corps in coordination with Rana Labs and local private sector partner, Fair Fruit. With this project, over 1000 young farmers are able to save, invest, learn and adopt best practices that help them improve their livelihoods. AgriJoven fosters innovation that engages youth in streamlined processes and, at the same time, links young producers to formal markets.
Fair Fruit works with smallholder farmers that are organized in cooperatives to provide technical assistance and training. The company pays fair prices and invests in the certification of smallholders, which has led to an increasingly reliable supply base of good quality products. Over 400 participants of AgriJoven are sons, daughters or family members of the cooperatives’ affiliates.
Through the AgriJoven project, Fair Fruit has worked alongside the youth to develop demonstration plots which featuring agricultural technologies and good practices that will help them improve their final yield and generate better and sustainable incomes.
In addition, the young farmers have the opportunity to be linked into formal organizations of producers. By linking young farmers to formal markers sustainability in long term production is stimulated as is the use of innovative technologies. Additionally, this generates new cooperative memberships and allows for greater ingenuity within the directive boards for the future.
The experience is developing successfully. The AgriJoven Project is generating the conditions for young people to grow socially and financially in their own communities. The demonstration plots motivate youth to overcome barriers as they give the youth a broader more tangible vision of the production and the benefits they can obtain.
Through the demonstration plots, AgriJoven participants have been able to observe the difference between the final product using the new technology, versus the traditional practice. At the end of the growing season, the young farmers grew better quality vegetables with 20 to 40% more produce that in turn generated between 10 to 30% more income than traditional practices. Proving to the youth that they can care for the environment by using a biological pest control and reduce the application of synthetic pesticides by up to 70%
AgriJoven’s objective is to get youth excited about agriculture again. Through the Youth Savings and Loans associations that are established as part of the project, young producers are able to access credit to implement new technologies that they’ve learned in their familes´ plots. The project is increasing the participant´s self-confidence, encouraging them to invest in their land in order to obtain better quality products and increase their income.
AgriJoven continues to promote new demonstration plots, with ongoing research in order to improve the performance of each geographical area by taking into consideration the microclimate, soil type, access to water and other factors. The project’s participants have shared that they are motivated, especially when their parents ask them to implement the new technologies in their own plots. Female young producers are particularly excited to learn new skills that give them the opportunity to further their scope of opportunities for development and financial Independence.