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Guatemala, meaning the land of the trees, is known for its vast forest, indigenous roots, and fertile volcanic soil. The forest across the land of Guatemala was once a source of food, medicine, and building materials for the ancient Maya. Most of the land has been deforested for extensive agricultural purposes to supply large corporations. 

Guatemala jungle

Although, today, we find the northern Maya forest, called the Lacandon jungle, an ecological treasure in Latin America. Inspired by the work of the rainforest alliance, sharing that through community forestry, more than 100 forest businesses, creating 12,000 jobs, and creating leadership roles including women, their program has impacted over 45,000 people and protected the environment. Within 20 years of the project, close to 0% of deforestation was heard of. Forest protection is possible with the right support. 

Farmers and women collectives in Las Victorias cacao forest.

With Give Back to the Source we wonder if such work is possible in areas such as Suchitepequez. A state where what was once a lush forest like the Lacandon jungle, is now a land of monoculture for palm trees, sugar cane, rubber, and more. Using a similar system where we include community, value the forest, and support women leadership for the development of a rich ecosystem benefiting all actors. We believe that such a process will definitely flourish in a different expression than the Maya Forest and will require extended patience as the project is from a regenerative approach and rooting itself on degraded soil. 

Currently, in Guatemala, very few virgin forests are left. It is part of the top 10 most affected countries by climate change. It translates into an increase in natural disasters with floods, erosions, extreme droughts, and much more. As a consequence, the country is experiencing an increase in migration. Farmers, youth, and mothers leaving the farming communities in search of better opportunities most likely going to United-State. This process can be illegal, financially risky, and dangerous. 

Byron, organic cacao entrepreneur

Meanwhile, some members of the community find value in organic farming such as Byron, an organic cacao entrepreneur from Patulule. During a past interview, Byron shared: ‘’ I saw the abundance inside nature and I’m so happy when we saw how much we produce every season is because we care about the earth and they give us a lot of cacao, so for us, that is the reason because I felt sad seeing a lot of people using chemical products here, I will be more than happy to share my knowledge with the community so they will change the process to produce cacao, it will take some time but I think is the best for our community.’’

We believe that by supporting and valuing more people such as Byron, we can see a green change coming from local farming communities. In order to do so, there needs to be access to knowledge, resources, and collaborations. 

The change in our farming culture becomes an urgent action across the world. We want to protect the soil, biodiversity, and health.We believe that every actor in the industry must be involved: local and international communities, producers and consumers, as well as men and women. We must encourage solution that integrates and values everyone involved in the change we want to see in the world. A green future for Guatemala isn’t only a healthy and productive forest but as well a striving farming community behind it.

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