Curt Bowen: Getting New Life Into the Soil

Curt Bowen has social engagement and agricultural knowledge in his soul – and what better way to put these two into action than with Semilla Nueva (New Seed). He is working with a wide range of people including farmers, non-government organizations, and government agencies in changing the system of agricultural development in Central America. His innovative approach has resulted in the improvements of farmers’ livelihoods and agricultural practices in countries like Guatemala.

For example in 2014, Semilla Nueva provided 1,500 Guatemalan families with pigeonpea bean, a type of crop that can rejuvenate soil without the need for irrigation and fertilizers as well as can be planted between crop rows.

Semilla Nueva is a success so far because it changes agricultural research and extension services in a systematic manner. Farmers have a voice in the interventions, thus, ensuring the client-responsive nature of the programs. Farmer-to-farmer education is also emphasized such that the ownership of ideas and their results now belong to them while the solutions are shared and institutionalized with the civil sector organizations and government.

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