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Community sustainable agroforestry systems in Manchaguala watershed, Honduras.

Implementing better practices on coffee agroforestry by smallholders, improving livelihoods and forest cover in Manchaguala watershed.

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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

World Wildlife Fund, Inc.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large NGO (over 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Civil society organizations: Water Security Alliance in San Pedro Sula (ASHSPS) comprised by WWF Guatemala, Cerveceria Hondureña Foundation (FCH), Merendon Fundation (FM), Ministry of Environment (MIAMBIENTE), Forest Conservation Institute (ICF), Municipality of San Pedro Sula, Merendon community association, plus representatives of the private sector. Also, the Honduran Coffee Institute is a technical support for ASHSPS. ASHSPS promotes integrated watershed management activities within Sierra Merendon´s Reserve Zone, including the improvement of the livelihood of local communities.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Guatemala City, Guatemala (WWF Guatemala/Mesoamerica Program Office)

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Manchaguala watershed, San Pedro Sula. The watershed covers an area of 115 square kilometers

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Manchaguala watershed within Sierra Merendon is one that shows more environmental degradation due to the degree of deforestation of hillside lands, unsustainable agricultural production, landscape fragmentation and threats to water security for local rural communities as well for the city of San Pedro Sula. Since 2008, WWF has carried out several activities of integrated management of the Manchaguala watershed starting with base line scientific studies to guide decision making, followed by: promotion of better agriculture practices to avoid erosion, water access projects to engage the communities on integrated watershed management, among others. In 2014, WWF and Cerveceria Hondureña Foundation joined efforts to work in the Manchaguala watershed to establish 50 hectares of agroforestry systems (fruit and forest plants) together with 27 small farmers. WWF supported the small farmers with technical assistance for adoption of better agricultural practices, reduce the use of agrochemicals, recovering the forest cover and building capacities on commercialization of products produced in the watershed. It represents the improvement of livelihoods of small farmers benefited and their families, enhancing their incomes through sustainable agriculture products and revitalizing local communities and economies. WWF works no just to conserve freshwater through integrated watershed management activities but also involving local communities on socio-economic processes as agriculture to improve their livelihoods, reduce the poverty, connect their role with landscape and ecosystems conservation, reduce the immigration, increase gender participation and reduce the vulnerability of this communities in face of climate change.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The Sierra Merendon’s watersheds that drain into the Caribbean Sea provides water to San Pedro Sula City. Manchaguala watershed is part of the Merendon Reserve Zone under the administrative jurisdiction of the Municipality of San Pedro Sula being a priority for the Municipality and national government as an important source of water for the communities located in the watersheds of the Reserve Zone as well as for people and industrial sector established in San Pedro Sula City, and the Sula Valley. Along the watershed there are 14 rural communities populated by peasants’ producers of coffee and cacao and in less scale vegetables, fruits and flowers. Traditional dishes in rural communities, based on basic grains such as rice, bean and corn with locally produced chicken and pork as source of protein represents the daily diets. As coffee producers, at home the families drink coffee mixed with local produced spices like allspice, ginger and cardamom offering a delicious flavored and aromatic coffee drink. The Manchaguala watershed has a fairly irregular topography with moderate to strong slopes mostly, with ranges that vary between 10 to 50% or more in some areas. Total area of 115 km2, a maximum height of 1750 meters above sea level and a minimum of 200 meters above sea level, the climate of the watershed is conditioned to the elevations. For the upper part of the watershed there is a more humid-rainy climate and for the lower part a semi-seasonal dry rainy climate. The communities in Manchaguala are classified as rural, with the influence of the San Pedro Sula City attracting the migration from the rural areas to the urban zones for non-agricultural work opportunities and/or looking for continuity of education at secondary and university levels. Traditional agriculture of subsistence is the main productive activity in the watershed. The main crops are coffee, cocoa, vegetables, fruit trees and flowers. Being coffee cultivation and cacao the main items for the family economy, income generator and employment. Based on socio-economics studies elaborate by WWF Guatemala, small/medium scale agriculture is one of the main livelihoods of local communities in Manchaguala watershed, however small producers live in poverty because agricultural production is not enough or productivity is impacted by pests, climate variability, unsustainable practices, lack of irrigation, limited access to new markets, among others. Smallholders are eager to implement better agricultural practices oriented to forest cover recovery, reduce runoff and erosion, and implement a marketing strategy for the produce with a green label. The hope of community members is to achieve the sustainable development of the watershed including sustainable tourisms operation, fair trade of the agroforest products and ensure food security and promote healthy diets among the families in the watershed.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Unsustainable food production practices are the threats to small coffee producers in Manchaguala watershed. Smallholders current practices includes the deforestation of hillside lands to plant coffee and other crops with minimum conservation practices. If the forest cover is not recovered by natural regeneration, reforestation or implementation of agroforestry systems the soil will be unproductive, water scarcity will be an issue for local communities and urban centers in the Sula valley. Climate change represents a critical factor for water security and food production, local stakeholders must adopt better agricultural practices to adapt to climate change and learn how to harvest water and wisely use it for domestic and food production. The traditional food system generally is inequitable along the value chain, being more noticeable at the primary production line, the smallholders. The lack of formal organized farmers groups means a disadvantage for smallholders to trade the products in local markets. Government and non-government organizations may assist with the organization of smallholders and women groups to ensure a fair distribution of the profits along the value chain. It will be important to start in 2020 the design of the food system interconnecting farmers, distributors, transformers, local organizations and government agencies to reduce impacts, trade in a fairly way, to be better prepared for environmental changes in 2050. With a food system more equitable and adding value to products in local communities, employment opportunities will arise, for instance women groups will need knowledge in business administration, or food engineering for its transformation, smallholders will require a skilled workforce by 2050 expecting that the food system will be a system that utilizes technology for decision making. A challenge for 2050 is to transform the communities in Manchaguala watershed as an example of sustainable development, ensuring food and water for local communities, adopting modern technology in harmony with the environment. The food system in 2050 will use technology along the value chain including early warning systems to prevent impacts due to droughts or flooding, online platforms for fair trade of products or for better integration with market actors. Pest control will be done in a responsible way implementing real time monitoring systems, and nutrition of crops will be done using precision agriculture. Secondary technical institutions and agricultural universities will need to adapt to the new technologies to ensure the capacity building of the workforce that will transition from the current traditional agriculture system to the 2050 sustainable food system. Some incentives may be implemented by government authorities to promote the trade of locally produced products.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

WWF’s vision is to transform the food system in Manchaguala watershed, ensuring food security with a healthy population. To recuperate the forest cover in the watershed, smallholders will adopt agroforestry systems in their agricultural plots planting timber and/or fruit trees in the coffee farms. Promotion of diversification in agricultural products will be a strategy for forest cover and food security, sustainable production of fruits and vegetables will be implemented in the smallholder’s lands that traditionally depend on the coffee production with unpredictable markets prices impacting the food security for rural communities in Manchaguala. Sustainable tourism in the watershed will be an option to reduce pressure in land use change. Tourism will diversify income opportunities for women groups and youths, joining sustainable agricultural production with sustainable agritourism may be a way to transform the livelihoods of rural population in the watershed. Considering that climate change may impact water availability it will be a threat for the future of the food system. Water harvest practices will be a primary option to ensure water for food production in 2050. Smallholders will be trained in techniques for water harvesting to be use in their production plots in a sustainable way. It is expected that by 2050 the actions implemented to improve the forest cover; natural regeneration, reforestation and agroforestry systems plus the sustainable tourism activities, will secure the hydric resource in the protected area. Farmers and women groups will be legally organized in cooperatives or associations to contribute for a sustainable food system in 2050, legally organized groups will be in a better position to trade more equitable, get access to formal markets and training opportunities. To take advantage of direct sales in supermarkets or to enter into export markets a legal established entity is needed to do the trading on behalf of the community members. To the extent that the food system moves from the conventional to a sustainable system that uses technology for decision making, a skilled workforce will be demanded by the system, technical schools and universities will be the key stakeholders to build the required capacities.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

In 2050 coffee producing communities in Manchaguala watershed enjoy an agri-food system that is fair and meets the needs of families.

Organized producers receive a fair price for their products in national and international markets, women and youths in the area are integrated into the production chain, adding value to their farm products.

Working hand in hand with government agencies and the academia, producers are farming in an environmentally and socially responsible way, contributing to food and water security of the watershed communities and the Sula valley.

Coffee farms maintain productivity with the adoption of good agricultural practices including sustainable irrigation systems that do not jeopardize the water supply to communities of Manchaguala and San Pedro Sula.

An offer of community tourism managed by women and youths has improved the livelihoods of rural families, more kids attending schools, youths attending universities, community groups building capacities.

The area in the past was heavily impacted by deforestation, now the communities reforested and recovered forest cover on degraded soils in order to ensure the sustainability of their natural resources and food security.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

A community sustainable agroforestry systems in Manchaguala watershed, Honduras, will transform the convetional food system to a sustainable food system implementing better agricultural practices on coffee agroforestry systems by small producers, improving livelihoods and forest cover in Manchaguala watershed. The 2050 food system in Manchaguala watershed will be a system that integrates farmers, intermediaries, traders, teachers, women, youths, inputs suppliers, markets, etc. with social and environmental responsibility ensuring the regeneration of the forest cover in the hillsides while producing sustainable industrial crops and products for local consumption. Coffee production under agroforestry systems as part of the future food system no just will improve incomes and livelihoods of Manchaguala watershed population but also represents distinctive, value-added, quality products for the population of San Pedro Sula. The coffee tree whose fruit is used to make the most popular, important and profitable non-alcoholic beverage in the world today, is the most important product in Honduras, represents the number one cultivated crop and the main source of income for more than 100,000 families in the country. According to the Honduran Coffee Institute (IHCAFE) there are more than 229,816 hectares in production, with an estimated production of 320,000 metric tons per year, the majority is exported and approximately 23,000 metric tons are destined for internal consumption. The Manchaguala watershed represents the 1% of national production with 930 smallholders producing coffee in 2,300 hectares with low technology and unsustainable production practices. In 2018/2019 crop season Hondurans reports US$950 million in coffee trade, Manchaguala portion was 9.5 million dollars for that crop season. Knowing that current production practices are unsustainable, and the coffee trade is done in conventional markets depending on the volatile free market prices, the vision will focus on how organize the smallholder’s coffee producers to enter into niche markets with sustainable production increasing productivity without expansion of farms. As part of the vision, coffee producers will diversify the food production system to minimize the negative impacts of markets prices when the producer depends in a single crop. The participation of smallholders in farmers markets will be a way to promote other products like fruits and vegetables, value added products and the incorporation of women and youths into the value chain. With a transformative approach in 2050 the producers of coffee, and other crops like cacao, vegetables, fruits and flowers will be a model to replicate as an example of sustainability and development in the region. Smallholders will implement better agricultural practices oriented to restore the forest cover, reduce runoff and erosion, and implement a marketing strategy for a fairly income distribution along the value chain. To ensure the sustainable coffee production and food security in Manchaguala, WWF in partnership with other members of the civil society and government agencies will implement field activities to reduce the negative impacts of unsustainable coffee production such as the residual water management during processing, management of the coffee pulp after processing, and reduction of CO2e emissions. To achieve that, WWF will promote ecological coffee processing practices with minimum water use during the process, transformation of residual products like coffee pulp and residual waters into organic fertilizer to be reused by the same coffee producers. To minimize CO2e emissions, plating at least 100 timber or fruit tress per hectare of coffee will capture 0.05 tons of CO2e. The Merendon Reserve Zone by 2050 will continue as the main source of fresh water for rural communities and the Sula valley. The hope of community members is to achieve the sustainable development of the watershed including sustainable tourisms operation, fair trade of the agroforest products and ensure food security for the families in the watershed. There are opportunities for women to be organize in entrepreneur groups to add value to much of the products produce in the watershed like jams, flavored coffee, cacao powder, chocolate bars, natural juices, among others. The vision aims to see in each community in Manchaguala a group of women leading micro or small enterprises with a learning process guided by government agencies and organizations of the civil society. Same for smallholders that need to be organize in cooperatives or farmers association to better market the products in more formal markets or direct to consumer in San Pedro Sula as a first option or to explore opportunities in export markets for fair trade of coffee. Our vision is to achieve the food security for rural communities in Manchaguala watershed through the participation of all stakeholders in the food system improving the income of smallholders, women and youths.

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1 comment

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Photo of Alana Libow

Hi MAURICIO MEJIA - Welcome to the Food System Vision Prize!

Exciting to see your vision underway to develop a sustainable agroforestry systems in Manchaguala watershed, Honduras.

How might you further develop the challenges and the vision via community informed conversations/input?

If you step back from the tangible and actionable details of your vision and a news reporter arrived in Manchaguala in 2050, what would she/he see and feel because of your vision? Share with us this story -- integrate what your life and local stakeholder (coffee producer) life would look and feel like in 2050 and how would this vision respond to the challenges and 6 themes?

As you hone your vision, reminder that we've developed a Food Vision Prize Toolkit ( and have webinars to provide learnings tied to systems thinking and future casting (

Look forward to seeing your Vision evolve over the next two weeks.