This article is adapted from AQ’s special report on transnational organized crime.
Enrique Samayoa is a farmer from El Jute, a community in La Libertad, Guatemala. He incorporates ancient agricultural techniques passed down from his father and grandfather to practice sustainable farming and play his part in protecting the environment.
Americas Quarterly: How is climate change affecting your community?
Enrique Samayoa: Climate change has been a significant challenge for my community. The process is accelerated by deforestation, which is a common practice to gain access to more farmland. However, deforestation actually creates major problems for farming, like soil erosion. When it rains, it rains hard and directly on our plants, causing flooding. The most nutrient-rich part of the soil is washed away. We used to be able to anticipate the rain but recently it has rained more irregularly, and it has become more difficult for our communities to cultivate corn and beans, our main food sources.
AQ: How are you and your community reacting to these challenges?
ES: We use techniques to fight climate change that we taught ourselves. They have been developed and refined over time by our parents and their parents. For example, we plant corn, legumes and squash on the same plot of land because it conserves space and the nutrients complement one another. We save fertilizer, water and time. Squash have big leaves that provide shade to keep the soil moist, the legumes deposit nitrogen in the soil, and the corn helps the beans grow. Through this process we conserve large amounts of water and do our part to protect the environment.
AQ: What would you like to see your government do to protect the environment?
ES: Although we have a ministry of the environment, their impact is limited in our community. So our local government has introduced regulations. For every tree that gets cut down another five must be planted. I would like to see more national regulations that prohibit hydroelectric dams and mining, which affect our water supply. When these projects come to our communities, they destroy our livelihood.
Tags: Agriculture, Guatemala, sustainability