Through its partnership with Lutheran World Relief, FRB supported a pilot project called Learning for Gender Integration. Read about the results in the article below.
Farmers in the Flor de Pancasán area of Nicaragua’s Matiguás municipality were struggling. They were seeing low crop yields for a variety of reasons, including soil depletion, a lack of resources to make key investments and weather fluctuations, and this was affecting their ability to feed their families. Through its Learning for Gender Integration project, Lutheran World Relief wanted to see whether an initiative to increase agricultural production and improve food security might be bolstered with efforts to reduce gender gaps.
My name is Douglas. I’m 43 years old, married with 3 children, and I’m a member of a Farmer Field School. I’ve worked the land all my adult life, growing corn and beans on my 5-hectare (12-acre) plot. We used to have set planting times, and prepared the land by burning and raking. Our yields weren’t so good, so we had to go to pick coffee on other farms for a few months a year to earn money for food and home expenses.
Thanks to the training workshops, I’ve made a lot of changes over the past year. They include waiting for the best time to plant by consulting with others and listening for crop and weather information on the radio. And instead of burning and raking, leaving the ground naked, I use careful placement of organic refuse to protect the soil from erosion. I’m also trying out different drought-tolerant seed varieties.
Now, I don’t just grow corn and beans, but have filled our land with other food plants. Corn and beans are expensive to cultivate, and have not yielded well in past years. Instead, we are planting more crops for our families to eat, and we are also learning to grow coffee, cocoa and other cash crops. In fact, I’m even intercropping my bananas, chocolate, coffee, and cassava to use my land more efficiently.
These changes have helped my family’s wellbeing. We’re improving our house, have bought a cow, and have replaced a part of our land that we had sold. Now we only go to the coffee harvest for a couple of weeks a year. I am working at convincing more of my neighbors try these new techniques so they can know the same success I have had.
FRB’s local partner, AMC, says that an initial needs assessment on each farm allows them to invest resources wisely. AMC staff has learned that adapting new practices is a long-term process with the farmers, so individualized technical visits to farms are a priority. Attendance at workshops is not necessarily an indicator of success, so follow-up with participants after workshops is a must to promote lasting change in attitudes in the farming families.
Nicaragua-Farmer encompasses 7 communities, 361 households, and 1, 625 individuals
My name is Martha Elena. I’ve always enjoyed having plants in my yard, and used to try to grow vegetables but without much success; they would wilt and not produce. I figured my soil wasn’t any good, or I just didn’t have a “green thumb.” I also got very discouraged when the animals would eat all my plants.
Then, a year ago, I participated in a workshop with ACJ about how to grow a vegetable garden. They showed us pictures of how folks like me had done it in other communities where they work. I agreed to give it another try, so the technical staff showed me how to prepare the earth for planting and how to use recycled materials like plastic bottles and other containers to plant in.
We constructed raised beds, out of the way of the animals. I was worried about how I would get enough water for my plants, but the ACJ staff assured me that they wouldn’t need as much in the containers. It was very satisfying for me to find that I could harvest lots of vegetables like onions, cucumber, beets, peppers and tomato after all. What’s more, our family can enjoy eating all our fresh produce knowing we aren’t consuming toxic chemicals, because we know what we put in our soil.
I’ve also learned how to keep my own seeds for planting. That helps me save money because I don’t need to buy seeds or fresh vegetables any more. And I’ve started a small business pickling vegetables from my garden to sell to local restaurants. My kids are learning right along with me, since they help me with our garden. They’ve learned about recycling at school, and they like to find ways to make good use of our plastic garbage.
I’m grateful to God for giving me strength and perseverance, and I hope to continue learning about how to grow healthier, tastier food in my garden.
FRB’s local partner, ACJ, has learned that women are motivated by concern for their children to learn to grow, prepare and eat healthy foods. Using creative planting containers like sacks, bottles, or raised beds makes it easy for them to look after their vegetables close to their homes. Not only do containers conserve more water than traditional open beds – especially important during the dry season – but placing them close to their homes means they don’t have to carry water very far, and can re-use wash water for their plants.
Nicaragua-Boaco encompasses 8 communities, 210 households, and 860 individuals
One million people have been helped to become food secure in the first 15 years of existence of Foods Resource Bank. FRB is the parent organization of the local growing project, Seeds of Hope. A goal has been set to reach another 1 million persons in the next 7 years.
This year the local growing project has been supporting a program in Nicaragua that helps farmers
From the 29th of November to the 7th of December, 2014, a group of nine from Foods Resource Bank (FRB) came to Nicaragua. For the majority, it was their first time visiting this land of beautiful nature and rich culture.
Does your desk, like mine, have a stack of year-end charitable requests? 'Tis the season to ponder again what causes best fit our values and which organizations will make best use of the checks we send. With both my time and money I try to balance local and global needs, looking to create opportunity rather than dependency. The surprise is that to the extent I choose and act wisely, I am changed. I get to glimpse the best in humanity, a gift beyond measure in these days when our worst seems always in view.
Perhaps it's part of my Iowa DNA, but much of my personal focus is on raising food, from our backyard garden and chickens to the fields of smallholder farmers around the world. I know how it feels to be in relationship with the soil, the rain, the sun and the seasons. And I've seen the faces and heard the stories of what it means to parents in Zambia and Laos and Guatamala to be able to feed their families. Dignity, hope and creativity are part of the harvest and provide good seed for the future.
By Laurie Kaniarz, FRB Staff
If you are a Foods Resource Bank (FRB) volunteer, supporter, friend, or staff, you are part of a grassroots movement that is helping people resist migration to cities or other countries to look for work to sustain their families back home. Our focus on agricultural development for small-holder farmers helps them find and practice real solutions to challenges like
Doña Nereyda is a nutrionist and enthusiastic speaker from Nicaragua. Recently, she began an adventure through the mountains, with FRB's Nicaragua - Farmer program, to share the value of eating fresh and local foods. Read her story here!
Using IV equipment from the local hospital, and a few plastic bottles, Pedro is adapting to the unpredictable challenges of climate change in Nicaragua. Read on!
FRB's Nicaragua - Boaco Program works in paternship with World Renew to encourage farmers despite the increasing challenges of a changing climate. Read the origninal story, here, provided by World Renew!