UN World Food Programme

El Salvador: Female farmers able to expand production

Juana des los Angeles Cabrera in front of WFP Headquarters in Rome.
Copyright: WFP/Tobias Bauer.

"We are no longer subsistence farmers – we are now simply farmers! Now, we do business," said Juana de los Angeles de Cabrera, a smallholder farmer from El Salvador, speaking to WFP's Executive Board in Rome.

Juana, a thirty-eight year old farmer from the municipality of San Lorenzo in El Salvador, grows maize and beans for a living. The mother of three is a member of the AGRISAL farmers’ association, which was selected to be part of the P4P initiative in El Salvador in 2009.

“As a producer, I benefited from P4P by increasing my production and income by selling maize and beans to my association,” Juana explains. “In 2008, I produced 1.1 metric tons of beans. In 2009, using the agricultural inputs obtained on credit from AGRISAL, and following the guidelines on how to use them, I produced 1.6 tons. I was also able to sell 1.3 tons of clean maize for 378 USD. With the increased income I was able to buy more food for my family and also save money for the inputs required for the next agricultural season.“

Almost 50% of smallholders in San Lorenzo are women, as men have migrated to the city, leaving behind many female headed households. Juana is one of them, and she cultivates her 1.4 hectares with the help of her family.

“My association also benefited by increasing the scale of production and selling at higher prices. Before P4P, the association was buying from its members at a price slightly above the local market, and was re-selling it to a processing company who was paying also just above local market prices. With P4P, for the first time we saw the benefits of selling a cleaned and graded grain. We learned how to dry, clean, fumigate the grain to improve its quality, and we obtained a higher price.”

In the summer of 2009, Juana had attended a 16 weeks training at a Farmers’ Field School organised by the UN Food and Agriculture Association (FAO), where she learned improved agricultural practices in grains and horticulture. With her acquired knowledge on how to produce a quality crop and access to a quality-conscious market, Juana has high hopes for the future:
“We hope to sell quality grains to more buyers such as WFP who buy in large quantities. We also hope that the young generation learns how to do good, business oriented agriculture and see that it is possible to make a livelihood out of agriculture”.

P4P has not only given Juana and her fellow members of AGRISAL hope, but also transformed her livelihood: “We are no longer subsistence farmers – we are now simply farmers! Now, we do business!”