Fabian Pop Pop and Carlos Villanueva, the Seluk Food Security Initiative

Fabian Pop Pop is currently a student at Luther College in Iowa, USA. Together with professor and forest engineer Carlos Villanueva, Fabian is leading an innovative food security and nutritional improvement program known as the Seluk Food Security Initiative in rural Guatemala. Their project is combining traditional knowledge and innovative techniques of agriculture in order to successfully implement a program that is sustained in the long run. This initiative is focusing on food security because malnutrition is currently one of Guatemala’s biggest problems. According to the United Nations World Food Programme 2012 report, the chronic malnutrition rate for children under 5 in Guatemala is 49.8 percent (the highest in the region and the fourth highest in the world). This same report also claims that chronic malnutrition in indigenous areas is even higher at 69.5 percent.

Working collaboratively with residents from the village of Seluk villages in the northern part of Guatemala, Fabian and Carlos will guide the community in an effort to transform vast tracks of fertile terrain into agriculturally productive landholdings.

In research that was carried out regarding biodiversity conservation in Seluk villages, which took a period of five months, it was determined that those families actually have large variety of species that could improve food security and also boost the rural economy in the area. These species include vegetables, fruits, medicinal plants, edible herbs, timber and breeding poultry. However, they found out that what is lacking is the efficient management of resources and guidelines to sustain production during the entire year. That is why Carlos and Fabian  are convinced that these local products can potentially provide all of the necessary daily family food and other complementary food resources that can be used for commercialization.

During the following two months Fabian and Carlos are starting to provide community members long term resources for agriculture combined with training in resource management and large-scale agricultural production, hoping that by the end of the year they have achieved their goals with the families of Seluk. ”

For more information, visit the Seluk Food Security Initiative on their Blog.

GRANT AWARD DATE: July 14, 2015