Líderes agroambientales de Azuero/Agro-environmental Leaders of Azuero Network
We are a future farmers network that connects rural farming communities to each other and decision-makers for a resilient Azuero peninsula.
Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)
Our team works with rural communities in Azuero, but frequently throughout our work, we hear the sons and daughters of farmers say, “My father has a farm, but when it’s mine, I plan to sell it.” This lack of interest in rural land use in younger generations as they migrate to cities and seek other professions means that some of the brightest minds are not focused on how to promote sustainability and resilience within the agricultural sector in a region of Panama that is highly vulnerable to climate change because of its intense 5-month dry season and water scarcity, and is home to many endemic wildlife species that are in critical danger of extinction because of habitat loss. Rural youth can be important connectors of farmers to decision-making power centers, communicators to promote empathy and understanding of rural issues by the larger national population, and innovators to design new technologies and systems to confront future land-use challenges.
To connect Azuero youth with each other, information, and decision-makers, we propose creating a network of Agroenvironmental Leaders of Azuero. This movement of the children and grandchildren of local farmers would support youth in bridging the communications and advocacy gap between rural and urban populations in Panama and inspire innovative solutions to rural land use. The group would use social media, messaging applications, and frequent gatherings to connect with each other, and would promote interchanges between producers from the Azuero region with others around the world and with decision-makers and urban influencers to increase understanding and innovation in rural issues. By promoting leadership and innovation of upcoming generations in the land-use sector, youth begin to think of land management not as an outdated or unattractive profession, but as a fertile ground for new ideas, a sector with opportunity for advancement, and a space for critical intellectual pursuit.
Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)
Our direct beneficiaries are rural Azuero youth (ages 18-30) in the two farming Panamanian provinces (Herrera and Los Santos) who are heirs to land in the region (children and grandchildren of farmers). Herrera and Los Santos are the two provinces in Panama with the oldest average age, with only 32% and 29% of their rural population aged 10-30, respectively. Our indirect beneficiaries are the rural populations of Herrera and Los Santos, which are rural provinces (46% and 68% rural population, respectively) compared to Panama as a whole (35% rural population). Of these rural populations, 17% and 19% are 60+, the highest percentage of any provinces in Panama, and will likely be seeking to transfer land management to the next generation soon.
How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)
Many initiatives work with smallholder farmers themselves as the actors currently making rural land use decisions. However, the children of farmers often have the greater networking potential, education, technological familiarity, communications capacity, environmental awareness and interest necessary to be effective communicators, decision-makers and land management leaders. These rural youth are important influencers and bridges that can both communicate to their families about the benefits of sustainable land management practices and communicate their family’s priorities to others. As the only community environmental nonprofit with full-time staff (80% are < 30 & 80% from the region) working with rural Azuero communities, we are strategically placed to convene this network. Azuero universities are important allies, but as rural branches of national institutions their priorities are determined in urban areas.
Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)
Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.
Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)
The Azuero Earth Project (Proyecto Ecológico Azuero) Works on reforestation, habitat restoration, sustainable land management and environmental education on the Azuero peninsula.
Organization Filing Status
Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.
This idea originated from our frequent observations that our community members are not included at the table in national climate-change decision-making spaces. The originator of the idea was a team member who is a current land manager, but whose children have moved away to urban areas. Other team members, one of which is a youth who recently moved back to our rural area from an urban center, were enthusiastic supporters and helped brainstorm on implementation strategies.
Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).
Planet is influenced by current farming practices that have reduced forest cover drastically for agriculture and cattle ranching in a region that was once largely tropical dry forest, and contribute to other major environmental impacts such as carbon emissions, agrochemical use, erosion and soil degradation, and unsustainable waste management.
Prosperity is influenced by the extreme vulnerability of this region to climate change because of its heavy seasonality – a 5-month dry season followed by a wet season where flash floods and landslides are common risks, and where agrochemical use and unsustainable waste management damage human health. Erosion, soil degradation and problems with water quantity and quality have already started to impair production potential.
Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)
Allies in the process will be local branches of universities and farming associations, cooperatives and cattle ranchers’ guilds. We will build upon our relationships with eight rural ranching communities in our ecological corridor (80 km long, 400 properties) that aims to connect remaining patches of tropical dry forest on the peninsula to conserve the Azuero spider monkey through education and reforestation with local landowners. We will harness the power of the social networks of two of our staffmembers that went to the two largest university branches in the region to engage local youth in the idea.
Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)
- Highly educated young population combined with a lack of interesting advancement in rural areas, but growing environmental awareness
- Aging farming population eager to maintain local traditions and bequeath land to younger generation
- Rich cultural traditions and entrepreneurial social fabric that prioritizes reciprocity and respect for older generation, along with formal education systems
- Middle-income region where residents have time/income to dedicate to causes they care about
rural youth (18-30) in Herrera and Los Santos provinces on the Azuero peninsula of Panama
How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)
Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)