Speech

September 17, 2010

As Prepared by

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Remarks by MCC’s CEO Daniel Yohannes at the Honduras Compact Close-Out Ceremony

President Lobo, Ambassador Llorens, Distinguished board members and staff of MCA-Honduras, Partners at the head table, Ladies and gentlemen,

¡Felicidades Honduras!

It is a pleasure to be in Tegucigalpa to see the progress that has been made possible through the partnership between Honduras and the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation.  Thank you for your warm welcome.  ¡Gracias!  President Obama is committed to ending global poverty by investing in economic growth through country-led partnerships focusing on transparency, accountability, and results.  MCC’s work—including here in Honduras—is one way the Obama administration is already achieving its vision for global development.

Honduras’s MCC compact invested in what farmers need to ensure their long-term agricultural productivity:

  • technical training,
  • access to credit, and
  • roads to markets.

This is a compact by and for the people of Honduras, which MCA-Honduras implemented extremely well.  Their leadership, professionalism, and unwavering commitment focused on one goal: poverty reduction through economic growth.  Poverty reduction through economic growth means increasing the incomes of Hondurans so they can improve their lives and the lives of their families.  As we near the end of the MCC compact, more than 6,000 Honduran farmers are earning at least 2,000 dollars per hectare annually growing higher-value vegetables, based on early data.  And, with more income, these farmers are:

  • creating new, part-time jobs,
  • improving their farms and homes,
  • sending their children to school, and
  • purchasing vehicles to transport their crops to market.

 

As the very first MCC compact to finish, we learn from Honduras two very important principles about how they created an environment for long-term income and economic growth.

First, Honduras teaches us that a steadfast commitment produces results.  The Honduras-MCC compact we celebrate today is already delivering results.

  • More than 7,400 farmers received technical training in better crop management, irrigation techniques, business skills, marketing, and post-harvest handling.
  • More than 8,200 hectares of land are under production by farmers harvesting high-value horticultural crops.
  • More than 9 million dollars in loans have been extended to farmers, agribusinesses, and other producers in the horticulture industry, giving them the means to buy equipment, seeds, and tools to help them grow more crops and earn more profits.
  • More than 560 kilometers of roads have been rehabilitated, including sections of the CA-5 Highway, reducing transportation costs and time to national, regional, and global markets.

By integrating these projects in a coordinated way, Honduran farmers are earning more income.  They are doing this by growing higher-value crops and increasing their agricultural productivity.  They are also getting to markets, schools, and clinics much faster.  These Honduran farmers are agents of change.  Now, independent evaluations will measure the broader income growth and verify the impact of the results we already see.  Over the long-term, we expect that more than 470,000 Hondurans will benefit from the MCC-funded rural development project, and some 1.2 million will benefit from the completed transportation project.

And, second, Honduras teaches us that the highest standards of project implementation matter.  Honduras has been able to achieve impressive results because it implemented its MCC compact with a constant focus on:

  • quality,
  • transparency, and
  • incorporating lessons learned.

Because of MCC’s country-driven approach to assistance, Hondurans created and implemented their own plan for development to meet their local needs.

  • Hondurans themselves prioritized environmental and social factors.
  • Farmers were trained in the proper use of pesticides.
  • Grants were made to local institutions to research pest control and grow more coffee varieties, which could further boost rural incomes.
  • Resettlement was handled responsibly, setting a new standard for future resettlement in Honduras.
  •  
  • Gender was integrated into all projects, so both Honduran men and women could be equal champions of their development.
  •  
  • The Honduran government also set aside its own maintenance funds to keep up the roads being improved.  These and other policy reforms create a foundation for sustainability. 

Honduras delivered results, and demonstrated a sound approach for sustainability well beyond the life of MCC’s investment.

I am proud of what the Honduras-MCC partnership accomplished.  The people of Honduras should be extremely proud too.  Honduras has been a very strong partner. 

President Lobo: Thank you for your commitment to the success of the compact and for the leadership you and your administration have shown at this critical stage.

The farmers of Honduras—and their families—are benefiting now, as they increase their production, move their crops to markets at the peak of freshness, command better prices, and engage in greater trade and commerce.  Entire communities are seeing the benefits of safer and faster transportation to markets and social services. 

What our partnership has achieved is extremely impressive.  These results are a remarkable base, which, I am convinced, Honduras will continue to leverage for even greater poverty reduction and economic growth in the future.  After seeing some of the results directly and meeting with President Lobo and members of his team, I am very confident that the MCC compact we end this month actually begins a new era of sustainable growth for the people of Honduras. 

¡Que siga el crecimiento para reducir pobreza!

¡Muchas gracias, y nuevamente, felicidades Honduras!