By: Smita Gaith, Women Deliver
In Guatemala, where about 120,000 girls and women die from pregnancy-related causes each year, the agricultural company Agrofruit is exploring ways to reduce maternal mortality. The company specializes in growing tropical fruits, and is based in Guatemala.
The efforts began in 2011, when Agroamerica teamed up with a team of American doctors from the University of Colorado to explore the southwestern area known as “trifinio,” where three provinces called San Marcos, Retalhuleu and Quetzaltenango converge. According to the World Bank, about half of Guatemalans live in poverty. The needs assessment conducted by University of Colorado found that the Trifinio region has poor socioeconomic outcomes, and poorer health outcomes, especially maternal and child mortality. Specifically, the report found two-thirds of mothers in the region experience moderate or severe food insecurity, which severely impacts maternal and infant mortality. Additionally, about 20 percent of women surveyed had more than six children, and 14 percent reported death of a child under the age of five who had died.
Last week, officials from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) paid a visit to Agroamerica’s operations in Guatemala, to explore the potential for a partnership to combat poor nutrition in an attempt to directly impact maternal and child mortality.
During the visit, officials visited a training session for an Agrofruit program, called Better Families, which targets mothers. This program aims to reduce malnutrition and improve health outcomes. According to the company, 19,000 rural community members have benefited from the program, including 750 mothers and 880 children.
UN official Ernesto Sinopoli said “This is a first step in this alliance between the private sector and the United Nations, which we believe has ample potential for growth.”
For more information about Agrofruit’s efforts, please check their website or contact Carmen Gadala. (+502 2285-4100 Ext. 8051)
Flickr photograph via Pedro Szekely.