Smallholders in the northern region of Nueva Segoiva are changing their production techniques. Through new tools, like the employment of minimal tillage farming smallholders are able to cultivate the land with minimal disturbance to the soil, this form of farming provides protection for the soil from erosion. The minimal tillage technique utilized by the smallholder organization la Cooperativa de Servicios Múltiples Campesinos Activos de Jalapa (CCAJ) and their partner cooperatives has proved to be advantageous, allowing them to reduce production costs, conserve the land, use less seeds, and the farmers do not need to spend money to purchase oxen or plows. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada Environmental Specialist, Moreno Padilla (blue shirt) visited the town Jalapa to observe the implementation of the minimal tillage farming techniques.
“I save my maize and wait for the best market prices. I am now using environmentally-safe organic compost opposed to chemical fertilizers. I learned the benefits of doing this in the trainings that we are receiving. Personally, this experience has been a true blessing, I now produce enough to satisfy my family’s daily food needs and maintain a stable income.” Expressed farmer Manuel Betanco, 71, a member of la Asociación de Campesinos para el Desarrollo Integral Sostenible (ACADIS), in Jalapa, Nueva Segovia. His cooperative is one of 15 involved in WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiatives in Nicaragua that is implemented with the assistance of the Nicaraguan Government.
Having adequate storage systems in place is one of the main problems that smallholders face. The metal silos used to store grains are expensive and require constant management as well as the use of ‘gastoxin’ a highly toxic insecticide to eliminate pests. P4P and its partners like Red Sicta promote alternative “cocoon” storage systems, which are airtight bags that are uninhabitable by weevils and other bugs. In the picture the ACADIS manager, Alejandro Aguirre and cooperative members proudly display their storage “cocoons” to WFP Representative Marc Regnault de la Mothe.
74 year old Santiago Romero has been farming since he was 12 years old. “I learned from my father, but things have changed since then. I am now participating in field schools and learning how to protect my land”, said Romero, a member of ACADIS and inhabitant of Teotecacinte a community in the department of Nueva Segovia.
They are grandfathers, husbands, parents, and authority figures in agriculture within their communities. Pedro Fajardo, 77, and Santiago Romero, 74 engaged in P4P through ACADIS, in Jalapa. They were captured by WFP cameras while participating in training sessions on new production techniques appropriate for smallholders. Their experience coupled with their charisma landed them close ups on calendars and supporting documents for WFP staff members They were caught on camera again this year, proudly showing their photographs. “We cannot continue to work this way, farming as we had before. We are learning how to change our approaches and produce more”, affirmed Fajardo.
The Cooperative of Multiple Services "Santiago" of El Jícaro, Nueva Segovia, has extensive experience in conservation agriculture, which promotes the conservation of soil and water, especially in the plots with slopes where natural barriers (i.e shrubs, trees, dry leaves) protect the soil and prevent erosion of the nutrients. "If we do not implement techniques to conserve the soil it will erode, and there will then be a need to use more fertilizer. This is an unnecessary costly expense", expressed Elmer Sarantes, a cooperative technician.