Introducing El Puente
We are excited to introduce the El Puente missions and research station in Chisec, Guatemala. This is AgInno's base of operations and ministry in the Alta Verapaz department of Guatemala and is the home of both our Compassionate Ministries and Agricultural Research work. "El Puente" means "the Bridge" in Spanish and fits our mission to be a "bridge" between the church and communities, between the US and developing countries like Guatemala, between various NGOs such as universities and non-profits, and between best practices in science and agriculture and local families and farmers.
Here at AgInno Institute, we are passionate about reaching people for Jesus by making real differences in their lives via improved and more healthy living conditions, access to water and health care, improved agriculture techniques, education, and equipping them to provide food and income for themselves and their families. We attempt to develop approaches to help families in a way that enhances dignity and which may be reapplied to others. We "build bridges" between local Guatemalan families/communities with universities, churches and other ministries, NGOs, and government agencies to meet their needs with best proven approaches and new sustainable agriculture innovations. A key focus is the definition of culturally-relevant solutions to maximize adoption of success models.
What We Do
At the El Puente mission station, we have three primary efforts: Compassionate Ministries, Education, and Agricultural Research. Our compassionate ministries projects are focused on providing families and communities with "life improvements" focused on health and quality of life. These include water sourcing projects (wells, water catchment, storage tanks), concrete floors for homes (to reduce disease and promote child development), improvements to local medical facilities, etc.. In Education, we are privileged to partner with several US churches to facilitate and support Life Centers for children in several villages. Our Agricultural research focuses currently on improved corn hybrids and growing techniques and on locally sustainable aquaculture systems (tilapia).
Concrete floors for families
The majority of families living in rural communities surrounding Chisec have homes with dirt floors since they cannot afford concrete. A World Bank analysis of a concrete floor program led by the Mexican government showed that providing concrete floors leads to 76% reduction in parasitic infections, 49% reduction in the incidence of diarrhea, 81% reduction in anemia, and between 36 and 96% improvement in cognitive development in children. For a modest investment of $800 per home, you can make a major impact in the life of a family. So far, we have been able to provide 71 floors in the communities of San Simon, La Planada, Chinaboquil, and Chisec.
Many communities face a severe lack of water during the dry season each year, being forced to walk long distances to polluted rivers, find caves with water pools, or purchase water in larger towns. We have already provided the village of La Planada with a well (238 feet deep, producing 11 gpm of fresh water) with a solar pump and three 10,000 liter water storage tanks to provide water for the entire community of 120 families. We have also provided the villages of San Simon and El Porvenir with wells. Other projects include water catchment and filtration systems for homes (since there is a surplus of water during the rainy season). We are currently also exploring supporting a small business startup to produce certified purified water for sale at low costs in neighboring communities. A well costs about $6000 - 10,000, large community water tanks about $10,000 - 20,000, and catchment systems for homes between $400 and $700.
W completed two experimental growing seasons. We evaluated several locally available seed varieties, as well as different planting techniques and fertilization strategies. In some cases, we demonstrated the potential to approximately double yield and/or farmer profit. Currently, we have five local farmers in two villages replicating the recommendations from our research (funded by us in order to eliminate the "risk" element for the farmers). The intent is to enable local farmers to experience a real yield benefit, and encourage them to modify their planting approaches in the future and share their experience with other farmers, leading to "viral" reapplication.
Our tilapia research effort in Punta de Palma, Guatemala, demonstrated the ability to grow out approximately 1000 harvestable tilapia in a 25 m3 pond using intensive aquaculture techniques. We are currently working with a local family to transition this to a sustainable and profitable business.
Our current efforts are focused on recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) for families. Over the past 2 years, in partnership with Northwest Nazarene University, we installed, and successfully demonstrated a solar-powered RAS at our El Puente site and an attached hydroponics system. This combined aquaponics system can produce up to 200 1+ lb tilapia and several hundred pounds of tomatoes over a 4 months grow-out period. The RAS is the basis for demonstrating family-sized systems that can be replicated using locally available components. We plan to provide the first system(s) to local families in the next 6 months to learn what is required for this approach to be profitable in a local village context.
AgInno also partners locally and globally with other ministries, organizations, and communities to provide technical guidance and consultation on agriculture problems and opportunities. Sharing is a basic tenet of both the scientific community and Christianity. Examples to-date include sponsored research on sustainable fish feed (Purdue University), an appropriately scaled paddle wheel aerator system for reduced electricity consumption (Olivet Nazarene University - ONU), solar power systems for fishpond aerators (ONU), and an RAS/aquaponics system with a locally producible biofilter system (Northwest Nazarene University). We also partnered with Mount Vernon Nazarene University to explore the use of a fixed-wing UAV (drone) as a support platform for multi-spectral cameras for agricultural assessments. We also partnered with Servants Hearts Ministries to drill the wells in the three villages over the past few years.
"If anyone knows the good they ought to do, and doesn't do it, it is sin for them."
El Puente Location
El Puente is 175 miles from the Guatemala City airport
Google Earth view of El Puente
25 acres, house, dorm, pool, workshop, and agricultural land
Help Make an Impact!
Make a Donation
Want to join our efforts but not sure where to start? Make a Donation (see below) and let us know which of our efforts you would like to support.
Bring a Team
We would love to have you bring a team to work with us for a week (or more) on any of our efforts. We can host teams up to about 35 people in our air conditioned dorms (with bathrooms with hot water). Teams can also enjoy our swimming pool after a hot day of work. If you don't have a team, you could also have the option to join an existing team on our calendar. Just connect with us and start the discussion!
Help us make connections
We are always looking for new connections with individuals or organizations having skills and experience that we may lack. Just let us know if you have knowledge, experience, or resources that can help us in any of our efforts. We would love to hear from you.
How to Donate
AgInno Institute is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and will provide receipts for all donations. A PayPal address is provided here.