Nicaragua: Food Sovereignty and Delicious Beans
Published on 30 April 2014

Member of the Multisectoral Women Organization of Wale selecting bean seeds for the upcoming planting season. WFP/Sabrina Quezada

The members of the Multisectoral Women Organization of Wale-that is part of WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) project. Is preparing themselves for the next planting season, starting in May when their rainy season begins.

three women in front of assortments of beansWFP/Sabrina Quezada

The Beans That Make Up the Nicaraguan Diet 

I like beans. I have eaten them all my life. Red, black, and my favourite white beans, typical of my people of León, the second largest city in Nicaragua. But I had never seen large duel colour beans: red and black, nor beans that were pink, Brown, Green or even grey. I recently discovered this wide variety of legumes on a trip to Santa Maria de Pantasma, where a completely female organization is participating in WFP’s P4P projects.

hands holding red beansWFP/Sabrina Quezada

Preparing for Planting

In the Multisectoral Women Organization of Wale we found members selecting the bean seeds that they will use for the next planting season, which begins in May at the start of rainy season. For four years the women farmers have been working together and cultivating native seed for planting.

maria elena picado with a table filled with bowls of beansWFP/Sabrina Quezada

The Best Option in Time of Climate Change

María Elena Picado is the organizations president, which consists of 56 members. She affirms that native seeds are more resistant to climate changes than hybrid seeds. "The local varieties (of seeds) support the excess water and drought and are more resistant to pests and diseases," says Picado. Therefore as part of the "Seeds for Life" project, the Government of Nicaragua is devoted to its cultivation and its promotion among local producers project. 


ana maria rodriguez sorting beansWFP/Sabrina Quezada

Native vs. Hybrid

Ana María Rodríguez is 60 years old and the mother of eight. With the other women of the organization, she selects the seeds that will be planted. For farmers, one of the main advantages of using native seeds is that they are more economical. A hundred pounds of native seeds cost $18 on the local market, while the same amount of hybrid seeds cost $80. 

Gloria Hernandez pounding bean plants with her children

WFP/Sabrina Quezada

Time for “Pounding”

We arrived at the lot of Gloria Hernández when she was “pounding” the recently harvested bean plants. Her children were there to help her “pound”; the purpose of doing this is to remove the pods that dried in the sun. “Sowing beans is part of my life”, says Hernandez showing us proudly her Pinto beans, which are intended to be sold by local producers. 

woman pouring pounded bean plants into a bucket

WFP/Sabrina Quezada

Wale Joins P4P 

Last year the all-female organization joined WFP’s P4P project, which is implemented with the assistance of the national government and agricultural agencies. “We need to find buyers that will pay good prices for the quality and uniqueness for the native seeds that we are cultivating,”says Picado

woman cooking beans

WFP/Sabrina Quezada

Native Seeds are “Richer” 

Along with maize, beans are a staple grain of Nicaragua. They are rich in vitamin B, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and are a great source of fibre. “Nicaraguans enjoy the taste of beans that are unique to our (referring to Nicaragua) land”, said Hernandez.  I left Gloria and her family with a feeling of gratitude for having learned about their on-going work.

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About the author

Sabrina Quezada

Communications Officer

Sabrina Quezada works as a Senior Information Tech Assistant based in Nicaragua.

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