GWI Central America is an advocacy and action-research program led by CRS. The program aims to improve food security in the region by influencing changes in policies, programs and practices in the rainfed agriculture sector.
Central American countries have moderate to severe levels of food insecurity, and are highly vulnerable to climatic shocks and spikes in food commodity prices. The region’s vulnerability is due in part to its high dependence on food imports, low production of food staples, and severe natural resource degradation, especially soils.
Many farmers in the region depend on rainfall to feed their families and support their livelihoods. Rainfed agriculture produces 65 percent of the food grown in the region and constitutes 71 percent of land used for agriculture. Improvements in rainfed yield would have a significant impact on production and food security, especially for farmers who grow food on small plots of land. The strategies and practices required to increase yields are primarily basic agronomic techniques and good water management – plus the human capital (knowledge and skills) to put these into practice.
Despite the central role of rainfed agriculture in producing food for the region, Central American governments and the donor community have insufficiently invested in and supported rainfed agriculture over the past fifteen years and thus extension services, research, and education are all lagging. GWI believes that there is a significant opportunity to improve food security by turning attention and resources to rainfed agriculture.
GWI in Central America is developing cross-sector partnerships, forming alliances and identifying best practices to advance three primary policy objectives:
- Increasing strategic public investment in research, extension and education in rainfed agriculture to improve productivity and food security.
- Influencing the implementation of best practices for rainfed agriculture, including soil management, water harvesting, supplemental irrigation, and diversification into agroforestry and forages.
- Improving access to financial services and credit for farmers in the rainfed sector.