Over 20 Farmers Earn Certification as Applicators of Agro-Chemicals
In December, De la Gente partnered with a local organization, Agrequima, to provide a 2-day training and certification program titled "Responsible Use and Management of Pesticides, Good Agricultural Practices, and Clean Farm/Recycling Program" for the cooperative members of San Miguel Escobar (SME). This training, taught by Agrequima's educational coordinator Carlos Palacios, provided practical and theoretical education that resulted in over 20 members of the cooperative becoming certified applicators of agro-chemical products. Agrequima works in collaboration with the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture to provide these trainings to farmer groups all over the country.
Throughout the training, the SME members were involved in discussions related to risks and effects of using pesticides and other agricultural products. While farmers prefer to not use these types of products, the reality is, with the outbreak of la roya (coffee leaf rust), spraying is now a fact of life for small farmers. This training provided these farmers the information needed to take necessary precautions to ensure safety for themselves, their household, and the consumer. Topics included:
- How to properly store chemicals (up high, outside, out of reach for children, first in-first out)
- How to properly clean their applicators (in the field, how to disassemble and ensure proper function and calibration)
- Proper hygienic practices after application (make sure you wash before playing with your children, and wash your clothes separately)
- How to read pesticide labels (ensuring proper use, concentration, disposal, mixing, as well as information on how to identify what to do in case of intoxication)
- How to properly dispose of empty containers once to prevent unintentional intoxication and environmental contamination (always wash 3 times and take them to a recycling station!)
Besides training safety, farmers also learned how to properly apply products to their coffee plants and were provided with the opportunity to purchase special tips for their backpack sprayers designed specifically for coffee application. Proper equipment and calibration is important because it helps farmers spray less by providing a more consistent, even, and precise application, all of which results in a safer, more controlled atmosphere for the farmer’s health, the environment, as well as save money.
Recycling and the wider community
Agrequima has decided to donate a recycling station made from recycled pesticide containers, to the community of San Miguel in the cooperative’s name. This will serve as a service station for the general Antigua and Ciudad Vieja area and allow for safe and easy disposal of clean, empty containers, as well as showcase the SME Cooperative as an active participant in these safety programs with Agrequima and the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture.
This training touches on all three of De la Gente’s pillars:
- Coffee Business – more effective use of pesticides results in less use, great for plants, great for farmers, great for the environment, and great for consumers
- Cooperative Assistance – training to provide access to the knowledge and resources they need to be successful
- Community Tourism – providing a safe and beautiful environment for our guests through proper disposal of chemicals and containers
De la Gente plans to take this tour on the road! With donations from supporters like you, we will be collaborating with Agrequima in 2016 to provide this very successful training to our other cooperatives throughout Guatemala.
But to do so we need YOUR HELP! Please support De la Gente’s efforts to make 2016 a safer, more prosperous year for our farmers and their families. Thank you for your support!