Asociación de Productores Orgánicos (APRO), $280,125 over three years; counterpart committed, $999,574.
APRO will train 290 families in the organic cultivation of fruits and vegetables, including off-season; provide related technical assistance; and work with them to diversify crops, add value to their production through processing and increase sales. The project should benefit 1,000 Paraguayans directly and another 1,820 indirectly. (PY-203)
Fundación Arlequin Teatro (FAT), $49,100 over one year; counterpart committed, $46,760.FAT will develop the artistic and organizational skills of the 50 young Paraguayans comprising a theater group that draws its members from public secondary schools in metro Asunción. The young people will learn to organize a community cultural center and will receive assistance toward filing to legally constitute it as a foundation. (PY-204)
Fundación Saraki (Saraki), $81,640; counterpart committed, $176,134.
In collaboration with the Coordinadora Nacional por la Promoción de los Derechos de las Personas Con Discapacidad (CONAPRODIS), Saraki will train 100 representatives of disability-rights organizations to produce radio programs that raise awareness of disability rights and the importance of including people with disabilities in the 2012 census. Subgrants will be awarded to 26 organizations publicizing Saraki’s programs. (PY-196-A3)
Base Educación, Comunicación y Tecnología Alternativa (Base ECTA), $48,623; counterpart committed, $35,410.
Base ECTA will improve its grant-making by benchmarking its procedures against those of other similar organizations. It will also assess the feasibility of offering credit to grassroots groups to develop enterprises toward their self-sufficiency. (PY-194-A4)
Sound Practices on Small Plots
Over the past decade, the gross national product has registered impressive increases in Paraguay, where 1.5 percent of the population owns 77 percent of the land, but half of the rural population lives below the poverty line. As large swaths of forest are razed to make room for soy, corn and cattle, and the abuse of agrochemicals also works to degrade soil, life on small farms risks becoming even more precarious.
Asociación de Productores Orgánicos (APRO) was founded in the 1990s by 150 farmers in eastern Paraguay determined to make agriculture more profitable while applying methods compatible with the responsible use of their small plots. The grassroots group, whose mission is helping its members grow crops certified as organic, now comprises 290 families from 15 communities. APRO launched the first market for organic products in Asunción and pioneered home delivery in the metropolitan area. In 2000, it registered the brand ECO-AGRO Naturalmente that currently appears on organic sugar, fruits, jams, jellies and honey sold throughout Paraguay. APRO’s newest product on the market is Stevia, a sugar substitute named for stevia rebaudiana, a plant indigenous to Paraguay now in demand internationally as a sweetener. The investment of a percentage of APRO’s profits in member communities has improved access to potable water and brought electrification to schools and health centers. APRO also works beyond its membership base. It is a founding member of Paraguay Orgánico, an association of like-minded organizations that worked with the central government on legislation providing for verification by peers and consumers of a given producer’s compliance with the standards for organic certification. APRO will collaborate with the National Plant Health and Seed Quality Service toward ensuring implementation of the law to the benefit of Paraguayan farmers.
APRO plans to use its IAF grant to work toward self-sufficiency by increasing its revenues from sales. Toward this objective, it will further diversify and expand its product base, specifically with organic fruits and vegetables grown off-season and with a variety of processed goods. As part of a growing movement of farmers whose practices boost production sustainably on small plots, APRO will also continue to act on its commitment to raising awareness of the impact of these practices on food production, the environment and the quality of life, as confirmed by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IASSTD), an effort initiated by the World Bank and co-sponsored by several organizations and programs under the umbrella of the United Nations.
—Jeremy Coon, IAF representative