Traditional agriculture going in Guatemala

| April 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

The local Mayan people who call a mountainous village town near Comitancillo, Guatemala, home, will tell you that climate change is affecting their daily lives.

Elvira Mauricia Diaz, who tills her fields as generations before her have done, is part of a subsistence indigenous community. These days, however, Diaz spends more and more time going down into the village to fetch the doctor to tend to one of her sick children, who are suffering from malnutrition and related ailments.

Their health is worsening because the weather “has gone mad”, says Diaz, citing unseasonal hailstorms that ruin crops. And daily morning heavy rain renders the soil too soft to work with, she adds. In a nearby village school, the teacher can easily see that the children can’t focus because they’re hungry.

Edwin Castellanos, who runs the Center for Environment Studies and Biodiversity at the University of the Valley of Guatemala, in Guatemala City, says that changing weather patterns are linked to the El Niño cycle.

Castellanos, who is Guatemala’s leading expert on climate change, says despite this added influence, weather all over the country is already changing and that the long-term projection is for less rainfall overall, not more.

Castellanos and colleagues such as Estuardo Aguilon of the Maya Mam Research and Development Association (AMMID, in its Spanish acronym) say the region is warming up. They also advise that local people band together to recycle water and plant food crops that will adapt, not die. They’ll also need to shift from traditional cooking methods to those that will pass on the most nutrition possible to children. Peaches are now being added to corn-based porridge, for example, and children are enjoying the change.

Says Diaz, it’s going to take a long time for officials to start spending money on infrastructure in this rural region.


Category: Autumn 2018

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