In the province of Coclé in a town called Don Juan, There is a group of eight women determined to fight poverty who prowls their environment with everything they have going for them: their land and the capacity they have to make it produce.
The fruit of their work can already be visualized. More than 30 thousand onion plants are growing in “Cute land”, The orchard where these women carve out a destiny with pickax, hoe, coa and a lot of effort.
This group of day laborers are preparing to harvest more than 900 quintals of onions through a self-sustaining project that coordinates the Directorate of Investment for the Development of Social Capital of the Ministry of Social Developmentl (Mides).
This harvest (the second of the year) will generate income of more than $ 5 thousand and will allow you to Cecilia Rodriguez and her colleagues strengthen the foundations of their venture, which is now a little over a year old.
In these plots, known as “Field Schools”, There is a lot of work and sacrifice deposited.
In recent weeks, these farmers who belong to the Networks of Opportunities and Guardian Angel of Mides program have worked extended hours every day.
They go into the plots very early and come out in the afternoon with muddy boots, with ashen hands, with faces marked by the sun, but with the hope that this piece of land (one hectare) will bring them afloat. In the first harvest they harvested 80 quintals and received an income of a thousand balboas that encouraged them to continue producing.
But long before the harvest scheduled for January 2022 begins, these women have achieved something incredible: selling their entire production, thus showing that they are ready for big things.
For Cecilia, “Cute land”Flames hope. And it has to sustain it. In the last year they have harvested more than 350 ears of corn; 30 pounds of paprika; 20 pounds of carrot; 80 pounds of tomato; 30 banana heads; 300 pounds of chili pepper; 30 pounds of beans and recently they managed to collect more than 5 quintals of organic rice.
They accompany 54-year-old Cecilia Maria Guevara and Ana Guevara 39 and 24 years old, respectively, both mothers of children with severe disabilities who have found in “Tierra Linda” a source of employment, which allows them to alternate the work in the garden with the care they must provide to their children.
This project is developed in the Las Huacas district, which has a multidimensional poverty rate of 88.3%, according to the IPM-C, prepared by the Technical Secretariat of the Social Cabinet of Mides.
On Coclé Each year, Mides, through conditional cash transfer programs, invests more than $ 15 million so that 18 thousand Panamanians with limited resources have access to food and medicines and the opportunity to develop self-sustainable projects.
In this village, located in the district of Natá and which belongs to the Beehive Plan, there are no companies, factories or businesses that create jobs. For this reason, “Tierra Linda” is a flower in the desert, a green touch that is friendly to the environment in a sector that subsists mainly on livestock.
Cecilia reported that they applied the transplant technique. Which consisted in the establishment of the seed in greenhouses to later make the open ground plantations. The onion is transplanted after about 40-50 days.
The optimal time for transplanting is when the plant has an average of 5 leaves and thickness similar to that of a pencil.
But before carrying out the transplant, Cecilia and her companions plowed the land with a rototiller and made a pre-selection of the plants that allowed them to sow the strongest.
The onion plot is fed by an irrigation system donated by the World Bank that guarantees that the onion has all the water it requires to achieve the indicated size and weight. The highlight is that this project is leveraged by various institutions such as the Ministry of Social Development (Mides), the Institute of Agricultural Innovation of Panama (Idiap) and the National Institute of Professional Training and Training for Human Development (Inadeh).
Rural women and their contribution to food security
The work carried out by rural women highlights the essential role they play in the food systems that guarantee food for the inhabitants of difficult-to-access areas, highlighted the Minister of Mides, María Inés Castillo.
The head of the social portfolio appreciated the effort and dedication made by these women who leave their homes every day to carry out their trade; make the land produce. And he added that these projects have the support of the National Government, which is investing resources, technology and technical advice so that each of these projects are profitable and self-sufficient.
Proof of this is that the 22 “Campos Schools” that operate in the province are allowing more than 400 families from vulnerable communities to tackle subsistence agriculture with agricultural techniques, which guarantee high yields in small spaces.
While throughout the country there are more than 200 schools, where more than 6 thousand women are learning to produce their food in their own environments.
Castillo indicated that behind each face there is a story of overcoming success that demonstrates the leadership that women give to the development of the country’s food security.
She recalled that these projects are teaching women that it is possible to migrate from welfare to social mobility that is good for the country.
Onelia Peralta, director of Investment for the Development of Social Capital of Mides, explained that the “Campos Schools” are entering with forces in regions such as the Ngäbe-Buglé region, where more than 150 operate in townships with high poverty rates.
Polidoro Pinzón, coordinator of Social Investment projects of Mides de Coclé, recalled that the National Government with the “Field Schools” is turning its gaze to areas of difficult access, where a large number of Panamanians who require state assistance are concentrated to improve your quality of life.
The onion is the second most important vegetable in the world, behind the tomato. Its worldwide production amounts to almost 75 million tons.