MANAGUA – For farmers like Blandon, who works a 1.4 hectare piece of land in northern Nicaragua, planting has been increasingly difficult in recent years because they can’t afford the seeds and fertiliser.
But this year it’s different. Blandon is a member of the Union de Ganaderos y Agicultores de Quilali, a farmers’ cooperative which has become involved in the Purchase for Progress project. This enabled him to buy inputs on credit.
“Before, I was never sure whether I would have seeds to plant. Now I can plant and repay my credit after the harvest”, says Blandon who expects to produce 4.5 MT of maize from the high quality seeds he bought through his cooperative.
“It’s growing well”, he says, smiling proudly as he takes a break from his work to look at his 1.4 hectares of maize near the village of San Bartolo, 300 km north of the capital, Managua. He and his neighbour, who owns the land, hope to increase their income by 42 percent as result of the benefits brought by P4P.
In Nicaragua, WFP is implementing Purchase for Progress, with funding from the Howard G Buffett Foundation. The aim is to stimulate the production and marketing of maize and beans among smallholder farmers. P4P is looking to help around 4,000 small-holders belonging to farmers’ organizations by enabling them to get seeds and fertilizers on credit and by giving technical assistance.
P4P works closely with public institutions in the agriculture sector and with farmers’ organizations to identify difficulties or obstacles in the supply chain: production, post harvest handling, warehousing and sales. The aim is to propose alternatives that allow them to overcome the bottlenecks and challenges, and earn more from their farming.
Seven cooperatives are involved in the project. They receive technical support on farming techniques and post-harvest handling. For the first time ever, farmers are able to access soil testing to help them chose the best type of fertilizer. It will assist farmers’ organizations accessing markets to help them get better prices, as well as in the procedures to sell food commodities to WFP.