Stories: Agriculture

  • Millions Face Starvation as Haiti’s Drought Stretches Into Its Third Year

    Mirene Raymond hasn’t seen a real downpour since last year. The 69-year-old rice farmer is one of millions at risk of malnutrition and starvation due to the combined effects of climate change and El Niño. “This is the first time in my life that I’ve seen things this bad,” she told ThinkProgress...

  • How Better Seeds Make Timor-Leste Climate Resilient

    For places such as Timor-Leste, a small South-East Asian country that is prone to weather extremes, climate change could deliver a serious blow. Drought and post-harvest losses from problems such as poor storage already worsen poverty and malnutrition in a country where 40 per cent of under-fives have stunted growth. The project Seeds of Life is designed to improve food...

  • What the Heck Is Shade-Grown Cacao? This Pricey Treat Is Actually Good for the Planet

    In Ecuador’s Amazon region, above the banks of the swirling Aguarico River, Luis Chamba grows cacao - the basis of chocolate and cocoa butter - on his family’s tiny finca. The furrowed, football-shaped cacao pods flourish under a steamy canopy of banana trees, balsam, cedar, and other local plants. Chickens strut and cluck, and a...

  • In the ‘Cradle of Cacao,’ Chocolate Brigades Fight for a Bigger Harvest

    When cacao farmers like Emilio Rivera first heard of a government-backed initiativethat would help them prune branches and leaves from their trees, they were skeptical. After all, a lush cacao tree with more, not fewer, branches meant more profits, the farmers said. That's been the traditional way of thinking for generations of cacao farmers here in the Ecuadorian...

  • Descending Into a Volcano — To Farm

    From the rim of Ecuador's Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, it's at least a 45-minute drive (no, more like plunge) down a winding, bone-crushing dirt road to the floor of the crater. But it's well worth it. After all, how often do you get to say you've traveled to what's billed as the world's only inhabited,...

  • Here’s How People Make Ends Meet in One of the Poorest Places in the World

    Niger is a country at peace. But a World Food Program distribution site in Torouf — a village about an hour’s drive from the city of Tahoua — seemed lifted out of a conflict zone. Sacks of millet emblazoned with the logo of the United States Agency for International Development awaited villagers clutching yellow ration cards. Staffers...

  • A Country on the Brink: Millions Go Hungry in South Sudan

    Mary Nyabouth and her six children fled fighting in her village of Nyal in late June, paddling two hours in a canoe until she reached a remote island in the swamps of Unity state. While they are now safe from the rapidly increasing violence between rebels and government troops, they are among the 4.6 million people in South Sudan — 40 percent...

  • In Honduras, a Wellspring of New Tools to Tackle Drought

    Gumersindo Rodriguez has become accustomed to measuring his family's well-being in inches: of rainfall, of crop growth, and the height of his grandchildren. And by that gauge, the drought that’s afflicted his corner of Central America these past two years is the worst he’s seen. “Barbaric,” he calls it. Walking down the steep,...

  • Brazil’s Long-Impoverished Northeast Rides Into the Middle Class

    Surviving as a farmer in the semi-arid northeast of Brazil has never been easy – drought is perennial, poverty is highly concentrated, and for decades the region was known best known for its migratory patterns toward cities and the wealthier south. But Maria Joelma da Silva, standing on a dusty path that cuts through her cactus-covered backyard, emphasizes that farming...

  • How Big Ag Companies Are Squeezing Brazil’s Family Farmers

    Celia is an important farmer in Cumaru, a small town in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. An advocate of the agroforestry style of farming--a pesticide-free farming system that imitates nature's way of doing things--she grows saplings for other agroforestry farming families in the region. But Celia has a problem: Her farming operation is relegated to a...