EARTH University announces next phase of program to empower farmers in Costa Rica and Guatemala

A second grant of $700,000 from the Walmart Foundation will extend EARTH University’s Resilient Community Food Systems program for another two years. The program works with farmers, farmer organizations and local communities to advance sustainable farm practices, strengthen farmer producer organizations, and build sustainable market linkages that help improve farmer livelihoods

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica, Nov. 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Farmers in Guatemala and Costa Rica will be able to improve the management of their land and crops and connect with new markets, thanks to the continuation of EARTH University’s Resilient Community Food Systems program.

Starting in August 2022, hundreds of farmers from at least 10 farmer producer organizations (FPOs) will be trained in precision agriculture techniques, giving them the knowledge and technological tools to improve their land’s productivity and environmental sustainability. FPOs will also receive support in strengthening their organizational structures and guidance on how to access new local markets.

“This program, made possible with philanthropic support from the Walmart Foundation, is an excellent opportunity for EARTH University to consolidate a new model that allows small- and medium-scale farmers to amplify their vital role in building more sustainable food systems. The program participants in Costa Rica will be farmers from Guanacaste and the Caribbean region, who generate initiatives with a high potential for added value,” said Javier Artiñano, Director of the Developing Solutions program at EARTH Futures.

Similar to the first phase, the program is led by EARTH Futures, EARTH University’s global solutions center, and will focus on three specific components.

The first component focuses on precision agriculture. EARTH Futures staff will work directly with farmers sampling and analyzing crop soil and foliage. Recommendations unique to each farm will be presented in an effort to improve crop production and sustainably manage resources using smart agricultural practices. On-going guidance will be provided on how to maintain these recommendations.

For the second component, EARTH will help each FPO create a strong management structure and an action plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of their business. EARTH will analyze the organizations, identify areas of improvement, and help the groups identify the best individuals to lead each area of the business based on their personalities and skill sets.

The third and final aspect of the program will help FPOs build strong relationships with their communities to create healthy business ecosystems. EARTH Futures will work with the FPOs to expand or find new alternative markets for their crops and value added products. They will help connect local buyers with FPOs directly and encourage community members to support their local farmers.

A key factor will be uniting the stakeholders in local food systems and value chains so they can share their knowledge, skills, and visions and establish win-win partnerships.

Proven results. In the program’s first two-year phase, following a $935,000 initial grant from the Walmart Foundation to EARTH University, 303 farmers from seven organizations in Costa Rica directly benefited – two FPOs in Guanacaste, three FPOs in the Caribbean region, and two FPOs in the Northern Zone. In Guatemala, 117 farmers were supported by the model; 100% were indigenous and from three organizations in the Sololá province.

Results of the program’s first phase include:

  • 80% of the farmers now have a clear plan to improve production efficiently.
  • 85% of participating farmers reported increased yields.
  • 70% of the FPOs gained more than three new potential customers.
  • 100% of the FPOs increased their membership.
  • 100% of the FPOs report that they feel more confident in approaching potential customers.
  • 100% of the FPOs included youth and women as organizational leaders.

Success story. One of the transformative stories from this program is Coopecocotour, a Costa Rican company that makes handcrafted coconut products.

Coopecocotour is one of the biggest employers in the Colonia Victoria community in Horquetas de Sarapiquí. However, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted their sales.

Thanks to the support of EARTH Futures, they learned how to boost their brand in the national market, for example, by redesigning their labels and packaging based on a market survey. The presentation of their products greatly improved, and the change is already seeing success, according to the company’s managers.

“Thanks to the project, we understood that we had to innovate to stay in the market during the pandemic. Today we have new partners in the organization, and new customers buy our coconut products,” said Marleny González, Coopecocotour manager.

To carry out this and other initiatives, EARTH Futures lends its expertise in leadership development and innovative and nature positive solutions to address the challenges of rural areas around the world, including Africa.

“The Walmart Foundation’s approach to investing in sustainable production and market access for small-scale farmers aligns well with EARTH’s mission and daily work. We also have other commitments such as nurturing community development, generating more opportunities in rural areas, and an interest in contributing to building more prosperous societies in Latin America,” added Artiñano.

Learn more about EARTH Futures here.

About Philanthropy at Walmart represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By focusing where the business has unique strengths, works to tackle key social and environmental issues and collaborate with others to spark long lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 26 countries, employs more than 2.2 million associates and does business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. is helping people live better by supporting programs to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, advance equity, address hunger, build inclusive economic opportunity for people in supply chains, protect and restore nature, reduce waste and emissions, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit or connect on Twitter @Walmartorg.


EARTH is a private, non-profit, international university dedicated to innovative education in Agricultural Sciences. The University prepares leaders with ethical values to contribute to the sustainable development of their home communities while constructing a prosperous and just global society. Students mainly come from rural areas, places that are essential for humanity’s future. 


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