Exploring the future of agriculture in Honduras

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During a workshop, agricultural stakeholders in the Dry Corridor of Honduras created multiple future scenarios to help prioritize investments in the agriculture sector.

What if, in the future, Honduran producers decided to focus on agro-exports in the hope of increasing their incomes? How would it affect their quality of life and how would they manage to produce large quantities of fruits and vegetables under the currently expected drought? Also, if the crops they produced were exported, what would they eat?

What if, given the current social unrest in Central America, the government decided to focus its investments on public security? What opportunities and challenges could it bring for food security, who would benefit from this policy and who would be affected by it?

These and nine other scenarios about the future of agriculture and food security were developed in a two-day workshop in November 2018, which gathered leaders of producer associations, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, universities and different state entities that focus their work on agricultural production in the Dry Corridor of Honduras. As one of the most vulnerable regions to climate variability, the area is known for its dry tropical forests, recurrent droughts, excessive rains, and severe flooding. It stretches across Central America, from the lowlands of the Pacific coast to most of the central pre-mountain region of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guanacaste in Costa Rica and Panama’s Arco Seco area. In Honduras, it includes 132 municipalities located in 14 departments of the Southern, Western and Central areas of the country.

Scenario illustrations created by Orvin Espinoza

The scenarios workshop, organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG) of Honduras, in collaboration with the University for International Cooperation (UCI) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), took place as part of the National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change of the Agrifood Sector of Honduras. The development of multiple sets of future scenarios is part of 'A Common Journey', a project sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in association with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The project aims to increase capacities of government officials in Central America to innovate climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and thereby improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.

The collaboration builds upon five years of work in Central America and the Andes by CCAFS and UCI, where participatory scenario building supported the development of national and regional climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in Honduras, Costa Rica, Central America and the Trifinio, with the support of organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the World Resources Institute (WRI).

Check out the photos from the workshop:

The aim of imagining possible futures, both optimistic and pessimistic ones, is to anticipate complex socio-economic and environmental issues and unexpected changes that might influence the effectiveness of agriculture, livestock and food security policies or investments. These scenarios must be taken into account in the long-term plans to address climate change. The twelve scenarios that were created in the workshop in Honduras will be used to help prioritize investments for CSA that IFAD, SAG, and other non-governmental organizations will undertake to support farmers in increasing their yields and sustainably farm under the effects of climate variability and vulnerability. During the project, a group of selected stakeholders from ministries devoted to agriculture and the environment will be trained in scenarios development to support investment prioritization and policy development.

The issues explored in the scenarios created are oriented towards the following themes:

  1. The productive models implemented by farmers or incentivized by the government (focused on regional and global markets or on self-consumption) and how they are influenced by territorial development.
  2. Centralized or decentralized governance and the access and use of water resources.
  3. Public investments in livelihoods or public security and how these affect societies' access to nutritious foods.

A team of experts from CIAT will model the issues and opportunities for CSA highlighted in the scenarios in order to understand and communicate the possible economic, social and environmental impacts of strategies and political decisions portrayed in these future worlds. The results will guide future CIAT research aiming to support decision-making about climate change adaptation in Honduras and Central America.

A Common Journey is a regional project that takes place in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Its purpose is to increase the capacities of key advisors and decision-makers in ministries devoted to agriculture and the environment by exchanging experiences about successful cases in the region that promote CSA. This way, it aims to encourage innovation and help determine key investment opportunities, which will result in strengthened policies, strategies and climate programs focused on CSA practices for smallholders in Central America.

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For more details about the scenarios component of A Common Journey, contact Efrain Leguia at eleguia@uci.ac.cr.