Hilly land and rocky soil. An almost total lack of mechanized equipment.
For the farmers of El Paraiso, Honduras, malnutrition and illiteracy have long been endemic.
To help overcome poverty in the region, a food security program was launched in conjunction with the Food Resource Bank, a Christian relief organization designed to promote sustainable agriculture in the developing world.
Earlier this month, Adalberto Ulloa, who has coordinated the project for more than three years, spoke to a group of parishioners from Holy Trinity Catholic Parish.
The parish is part of the ongoing Fields of Opportunity and Dreams - or FOOD - Growing Project, also in conjunction with the Food Resource Bank.
The FOOD project provides agricultural support to farmers in Ethiopia, a predominantly Christian country in eastern Africa.
The goals of the FOOD and Ulloa's projects are similar.
Ulloa, an agronomist who graduated from the John F. Kennedy Agricultural School in Honduras, highlighted the efforts of his project, which has successfully promoted greater crop yields through the use of such means as organic fertilizers.
"Before, they burned the fields at harvest," said Ulloa, a Spanish-speaker who communicated through a translator. "Now, they use the remains of the crops as fertilizer."
Family gardens, with a more diverse blend of food crops, are also encouraged, said Ulloa.
"One of the main problems in Honduras is the lack of nutrition," Ulloa said.
The country's rocky terrain hinders agriculture. Also, most farmers work plots of less than 10 acres, which, if cash crops, such as coffee, are grown for sale does not leave much room for food to be consumed by the farmers themselves, Ulloa said.
To promote soil conservation, methods such as curved terracing and living barriers have been developed.
Crops such as sugar cane and pineapple serve as excellent barriers against erosion - and have the additional benefit of producing more edible materials, Ulloa said.
The project has also encouraged development of low-cost sources of protein, he said.
In particular, fish ponds, in which fish can be raised for family consumption, have been developed in greater numbers, he said.
As part of the project, silos have been constructed for better crop storage, said Ulloa.
"Before, farmers would lose up to 60 percent of their crop to pests," he said.
The project in El Paraiso works with about 1,200 people, Ulloa said.
Contact Jesse helling at 9515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org