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Environmental Sustainability

Small-scale farming families struggle with many compounding social, economic, and environmental challenges that negatively impact their ability to attain sustainable income and food security. To combat this, we integrate environmental sustainability into everything we do with small-scale farmers and promote climate-smart agriculture and livestock production solutions.

Agroecology and Adapted/Sustainable Productivity

We work within an integrated system of plant and animal production practices to satisfy human food needs, enhance environmental quality and natural resources, and maximize on-farm and renewable resources. Our programs deploy a combination of technological solutions and traditional wisdom, including:

  • Protection of the ecosystem and biodiversity through agriculture that minimizes environmental impact, including protection of forests and native animal species
  • Focus on water and soil conservation techniques including irrigation, catchment, grazing management and agroforestry
  • Reduction of carbon footprint through minimal tillage, crop rotation, stubble-covered soils, and incorporating crop residues in soil versus burning

Climate-Smart Agriculture and Livestock Production

We focus on four areas to support climate-smart agriculture and livestock production:

  • Climate-resilient sustainable agriculture: In addition to agroecology, we work with farmer networks to anticipate climate risks and make adjustments and to select climate-resilient crop varieties that are resistant to local climate conditions.
  • Intensification of small-scale production systems: We work to increase food production per hectare without use of chemical fertilizers, avoid overgrazing to preserve soil and water quality, incorporate breeding of smaller stock into family production systems, and support biogas plants to recycle manure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Water management and efficient irrigation systems: We construct water reservoirs based on local need and topography, build filtration ditches, filtration basins and absorption wells, increase vegetation cover and promote reforestation, and develop irrigation systems to take water to crop plots and drip irrigation systems.
  • Carbon markets and payment for environmental services: We support local communities in their economic development and conservation of protected areas through payment for ecosystem services (PES) carried out by alliances with local and regional organizations. These can be linked to reforestation or forest protection efforts as well as to projects aimed at reducing emissions and increasing energy efficiency. 
  • 4.7 Tons of Honey

    Double the amount from the previous harvest from communities participating in the PROMESA Cardamom and Honey project in Guatemala. This was achieved by training beekeepers to promote pollination and protect the environment while contributing to farmer income.

  • 75.3% Increase

    in adoption of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices by Heifer farmers. By adopting CSA, farmers increase productivity while reducing greenhouse gases.

  • 10,000 Biodigesters

    built by 2019 in Senegal with the support of our Blue Flames project. This goal will reduce firewood consumption by an estimated 450,000 tons, and substitute chemical fertilizer with bio-slurry for improved soil fertility.

Influence of Agro-ecological Factors and Cultural Practices in Njombe and Shinyanga Regions of Tanzania

This study examines the influence of agroecological factors (seasonal unavailability of quality pasture) and cultural practices (traditional livestock grazing systems, treating animal diseases with traditional herbs, and rituals for preventing theft, etc.) on milk production and sales.

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Gender Equality and Assessment of Women's Empowerment in Vietnam

This study focuses on estimating the gender equity and women’s empowerment in Heifer Vietnam’s projects, comparing indicators before and after joining the project, as well as the causes for the efficiencies of the projects at the household level. The study concludes that after joining the project, households saw improved income and assets; more diversified and healthy diets; and improved women’s empowerment across a number of measures, including increased contribution of women to family income, increased access to training and education, improved role in family-level decision-making, and reduced domestic violence against women and girls. The four most important contributing factors to positive project impact are the contribution of women to family incomes, access to micro-credit, fruit production, and income from rice cultivation.

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