- Dry Corridor
- The new way of farming
- Next Steps & Needs
- Final Thoughts
Podcast: How to Save a Planet
Episode: Climate Change is Driving Migration. Could Smarter Ag Help?
- The media uses words like migrant caravan and border surge. And called a national emergency.
- These are people trying to make the best of the choices in front of them.
- Not from Mexico, they are from Central America, specifically from a region called the “dry corridor.”
- Dry Corridor
- It contains 10 million people.
- Stretches across Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua
- 20-30 percent of people with projects for Catholic Relief Service have migrated from this region.
- One area went 45 days without rain during the rainy season.
- People are not leaving because they want to. They go because they have to.
- Their life plan is to stay where they are with their communities, on their farms.
- It is in a Tropical Dry Forest. Swings between rainfall extremes.
- The migration crisis is a hunger crisis caused by climate change.
- People here historically grow everything during the rainy season.
- Always saw drought during the middle of the rainy season, usually for a couple of weeks. People started seeing longer and longer of these periods. The dry period is called a coniquila.
- Traditional crops failed.
- Bad years are becoming the new norm.
The new way of farming
- Climate Smart Ag
- Implementing this can stretch the ability of crops to survive for more extended periods.
- We typically think of farming - tilling, planting, blocks of a single crop. Monoculture leads to soil degradation. The soil does not hold onto water as well as it used to. Healthy soil retains moisture.
- 4 Pillars
- Use fertilizer correctly—the right amount, the right kind, at the right time.
- Don’t till, don’t burn. Let the waste reabsorb back into the soil.
- Use cover crops - not main crops during the off-season to repair the soil.
- Diversify- plant other things - trees, nitrogen fixers.
- Similar to regenerative farming
- Set up 3000 test plots.
- Small areas on each farm while other sections remain as it was.
- One farmer is on a severe incline, where it’s hard to capture water.
- After a few years, his soil changed, and he had the highest yields of all his neighbors.
- They also set up working groups so the farmers can share best practices and information.
- Local farmer implementing the practice was able to find a cover crop that does all the other things you need for cover crops, but in addition, you could harvest the bean.
- The way each practice has evolved into localized specifics. Seeds, species, and timing are different.
- 2018 - 41% more corn, 44% more bean than the traditional plots
- Climate Smart Ag had nearly 2x the production during dry years.
- The gap continues to grow over the years.
- We need to have partners to scale the practices.
- We need most of the people in the watershed to implement the practices.
- The impacts can multiply as larger areas adopt it.
Next Steps & Needs
- Invest in agricultural education via agricultural extension.
- More support for smallholders.
- If we provide information and resources to these countries, we could turn off the flow of people wanting to migrate.
- Daniel is optimistic; people are changing, mitigating the effects, producing more food, and generating more income. But it needs to scale.