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SID designs, proves, and promotes better methods for helping poor farmers in developing countries make the transition from subsistence to successful commercial farming. We apply and promote innovations that increase results and reduce costs. Poor farmers work marginal land and we help them conserve their land as well as increase their income. We have activities for women to ensure they participate equally in the activities and benefits of our projects. We help farmers adopt business and better farming practices. They make better business decisions and these practices drive more rapid adoption of the farming practices. We use "learn-by-doing" to help farmers adopt these practices. We measure results in terms of increases in farmers’ income, and cost-effectiveness as the ratio of increases in farmer income to project cost. We work in Guatemala and Peru, the countries in Central and South America with the greatest number of rural poor.
In 1996, we began our work in the Altiplano of Bolivia, helping dairy farmers reclaim land and increase productivity and income. We then helped quinoa farmers do the same.
In 2000, our program in the Sierra Sur of Perú helped NGOs achieve environmental and agricultural goals in the same project. We currently help dairy farmers near Lake Titicaca increase their cows’ productivity and reclaim land. We also provide loans to dairy farmers and cattle fatteners.
In 2002, we began helping 2,100 coffee farmers in Chimaltenango, Guatemala, increase productivity and income from coffee. In 2015, we started a similar program with 836 coffee-farming families is Alta Verapaz, which is Guatemala's poorest department but has 26% of the country's small coffee farmers.
Our policy is to achieve increases in income during the life of our projects that are 5 times project costs. The ratios of increases in income to project costs have been from 4.1 to 8.68.