Catalina Marin, a farmer from El Jicaro, Nueva Segovia, was among the first women to arrive to the Second Rural Women Encounter. The event was organized by the Ministry of Family Economic Affairs along with WFP, commemorating the International Rural Women’s Day and the World Food Day. Catalina is member of the “Carlos Fonseca Amador” War Veterans Association (AVEG-CFA), which participates in the WFP “Purchase for Progress” (P4P) project. She cultivates corn, coffee, and vegetables for her family consumption and for sale. “I am fascinated with the land and the trainings that WFP provides us, with their direction I have improved my planting, fertilizing, and harvesting techniques,” said the 59 year old agriculturalist.
The Minister of Family Economic Affairs, Pedro Haslam, and the Deputy Minister, Maria Antonieta Machado, welcomed 200 participants from the Government’s productive programmes coming from eight different departments of the country. This included members of the organizations participating in the P4P Project. “This meeting is a tribute to the work you do every day to contribute to food security, not only of your families but of the whole nation,” expressed the Deputy Minister Machado.
Through different exercises, such as focus groups and role plays. The participants analyzed the role women have as protagonists of the nutritional food security and sovereignty, the production of healthy food, and a fair trade. It is estimated that around 120 thousand female farmers are organized in associations or enterprises. Their production feed half a million Nicaraguans.
The life of Natividad Sanchez, a 32 year old farmer and a mother of two, changed completely when she joined the Productive Alimentary Programme. With this programme families have access to poultry, pigs, cattle, seeds, and fruit trees. They also receive technical assistance regarding health, gender, animal feeding, environment issues, and marketing, among others. “Before, my self-esteem was very low and I did not like to participate in trainings. Now I will soon be graduating as an agricultural technician,” said Natividad.
The International Day of the Rural Women was established by the United Nations General Assembly in December of 2007 to give recognition to the contribution of women, including indigenous women; in order to promote agricultural and rural development, the improvement of food security, and the eradication of poverty. In Nicaragua, women that participated in the Second National Encounter celebrated the existence of support programmes that improve their productive capacities with funding, technical support, seeds for production, and promotion of their organizations.
“I appreciate the opportunity to participate in meetings such as this one, which fills us with knowledge that will help us grow. Women feel worthy because we are the best house and land managers, even though we do not hold a college degree,” said Ismelda Sanchez, a farmer from the Carazo department. Ismelda affirms that her family has become closer since they have started to take care of the farm animals that were provided by the Productive Alimentary Programme. Her family is now eating thanks to the crops cultivated in her garden, thus improving the livelihoods of her home.
P4P and its partners joined small farmers of basic grains from Nueva Segovia who participated in the project. Partnerships and cooperatives are currently completing the elaboration of gender policy, which promotes the equality of opportunities for men and women and foster better gender relationships for individuals, families, and the community.
During the closing of the Second Rural Women Encounter, the head of the Ministry of Family Economic Affairs, Pedro Haslam, WFP Representative, Helmut W. Rauch, and the Production Area Responsible of P4P Project, Marlon Castillo, shared with the participants of the P4P partner organizations. “You are worthy of admiration because you have taken the challenge of living with dignity. WFP will continue to work with the Government and with you to ensure the human right of living decently and happy life,” stated the WFP Representative.