The rural Maya and Garifuna people of Belize’s Toledo District rely to a great extent on subsistence slash and burn style agriculture focused on three major crops – corn, rice, and beans. This type of traditional agricultural practice uses 5-7 times the land space as sedentary agriculture.
As the district’s population grows, it exerts increasing pressure on the land to produce. As a result, the district is faced with a vicious cycle of diminishing land productivity as fallow periods are shortened, and increasing destruction of rainforest habitats to create more agricultural space.
GATE includes several components that make a productive and sustainable program:
- Extension work/ technical assistance;
- Tools, seeds, and other supplies;
- Training of village volunteers to assist with the gardens;
- Classroom training; educational support to teachers in integrating the gardens into their curriculum;
- Encouragement to start home gardens; and nutrition and food preparation education.
- Assistance with other school needs such as improved water systems
The GATE project has been a collaborative effort of many people and organizations since its beginning in 2002. Our thanks and appreciation go to:
- Plenty International donors
- The Toledo District Education Department
- The administrations of the Methodist and Catholic schools
- PTA members, villagers, teachers, and principals
- Sustainable Harvest International
- Belize Minerals
- Belize Marketing Board
- Trees for Belize
- Pan American Health Organization
- Presbyterian Hunger Program
- Atkinson Foundation
- Protected Areas Conservation Trust
- Toledo Development Corporation
- Ya’xche Conservation Trust
- Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment
- UNICEF Belize
- Peace Corps
- and many individuals.