Farmers in Honduras are increasingly choosing to harvest cashew nuts as an alternative to more traditional crops to stave off bankruptcy.
El Triunfo, a town in Southern Honduras, is in Central America’s dry corridor. Countries such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador are also within this area and the region is subject to long droughts or terrible floods. The changing weather patterns have made it hard for farmers in Honduras to grow their corn, an essential crop to their diet. However, farmers are now planting cashew trees in Honduras where they once grew corn, effectively yielding large sums of the nut that they can sell to feed their families.
About 40 percent of the population of Honduras works in agriculture, growing corn, bananas, beans and rice. Despite being relatively easy to grow, corn crops are very sensitive to changes in weather and the lack of water experienced by farmers living in El Triunfo has damaged their crops.
The World Food Programme has helped farmers in El Triunfo turn to plant cashew trees on the plots of land that previously grew corn. Since cashew trees don’t require a lot of water, they are more resistant to the harsh weather in the area, and all parts of the tree can be sold – the wood, fruit, and seeds.
In 2017, members of the WFP worked with farmers to teach them how to grow various fruits and vegetables on their land. Thanks to these teachings and mostly female farmers since 20 percent of rural households are headed by women who work in agriculture, the WFP cooperative began to appreciate the cashew tree more and use it to its full potential.