UN World Food Programme

El Salvador: Increased crops and income for smallholders

Members of the ACALESA farmers’ cooperative handling their produce after the harvest.

Copyright: WFP/Laura Melo.

“As small producers we were used to selling our grain to intermediaries at the price they set”, says Valentín Alfaro, a 45-year old smallholder in El Salvador. "Now, we can compete fairly, both men and women, and in this way, with better production we have a better future".

Valentín Alfaro heard about ACALESE, a producer cooperative in Verapaz in eastern El Salvador that was selling maize to WFP and “what caught my attention was all the talk about selling it at a good price. I didn’t know anything about WFP and I didn’t understand very well when they spoke about good quality maize sold at a fairer price”, the 45-year old says.

He decided to become a member of ACALESE and was able to take part in trainings and to receive fertilizer and herbicides on credit. Later on, he was able to sell his maize and beans to WFP. The income of his family increased and now he is able to send their three children to school and university. In addition, Valentín has enough money to pay his debts and the rent for the six parcels of land where he cultivates maize, beans and sorghum.

“As small producers we were used to selling our grain to intermediaries at the price they set”, said Valentín Alfaro. “We did not know about quality. We did not have machines that would help us to clean it, nor anyone that could teach us what to do to achieve a good quality product to sell. This is why the intermediaries could take advantage of us and we were losing money without knowing it. WFP has created new opportunities and new contacts so that we can compete fairly, both men and women, and in this way with better production we have a better future.” From the first sale of his crops, Valentín received US$ 4,900.

Valentín points out that learning different techniques of post harvest handling like cleaning or fumigating his produce has proven invaluable knowledge and a clear benefit of the programme. In addition, partnership, solidarity and the participation of women have been strengthened locally with this initiative.

ACALESE is one of 13 associations currently partnering with WFP in the Purchase for Progress initiative in El Salvador. Valentín Alfaro is one of 2,500 small producers participating in the programme.