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SWEET SUCCESS: In Guatemala, honey production is an alternative form of community development.

Manuela had good reason to endure a tough start. Her husband had died not long before. She moved back with her baby daughter to her parents’ house at Pasac, a village in southern Guatemala and had to find a job to support herself and raise her daughter.

In past years, Manuela might have tried to find work in coffee growing. That’s how people in Pasac have traditionally made a living. But in recent years, an epidemic of coffee leaf rust has caused big economic losses and forced small farmers to look for productive alternatives to stabilize their income.

Coffee leaf rust is a fungal disease that kills coffee plants. Rust has been around for decades, but it's only been in the last couple of years that it has become a serious threat, due to climate change. Increases in temperature, decreases in precipitation and more frequent extreme weather events are fueling the growth of rust and other pests.

photo credit: Rob.Bertholf

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