University of Vermont

Community Participatory Action Research Network

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Project Profile

Participatory Action Research in Agroecology & Rural Livelihoods in Tacuba, El Salvador

Academic Partner

V. Ernesto Méndez
Assistant Professor of Agroecology and Environmental Studies, UVM

Other members of the Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group

Community Partner

Association of Organic Coffee Producers of Western El Salvador (ACOES) is a cooperative made up by 29 farming families in Tacuba, El Salvador.

Advising and Interdisciplinary Research for Local Development and Conservation (ASINDEC) is a local research foundation providing support and accompaniment to the ACOES cooperative.

Research Objective(s)

  • Better understand the interactions between farmer livelihoods and on-farm environmental conservation, with an emphasis on agrobiodiversity.
  • Examine the potential for agroecological management of shade coffee and food crops
  • Support farmer livelihoods through improved coffee marketing, food security and agrotourism.

    Research Process

    This decade-long participatory action research process, which was supported by CFHF in 2001, has yielded considerable outcomes in terms of livelihood and environmental benefits, as well as research findings related to sustainable conservation and agriculture in tropical landscapes. In terms of academic achievements, we have documented ecosystem services in shade coffee cooperatives (agricultural production, tree biodiversity and carbon sequestration), and analyzed interactions between agrobiodiversity and farmer livelihoods. These studies have been reported in publications for different audiences, including: peer-reviewed academic publications (1 edited book by MIT press and 8 peer-reviewed articles or chapters); 12 edited research or extension publications; and 3 farmer-oriented publications (popular education materials adequate for illiterate audiences).  We have also established a UVM study abroad course which provides financial support to ASINDEC and ACOES and a valuable learning experience for UVM students.

    Results and Impact on Community

    Direct benefits to the community include: 1) The formation and legalization of ACOES with 29 families as active members (2003-2006); 2) ACOES’ successful transition to organic coffee certification (2006); and 3) ACOES’ relationship to a solidarity buyer in North America, which pays prices above Fair Trade/organic and strongly supports environmental conservation and other livelihood-oriented projects.

    Last modified May 26 2010 11:01 AM

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