Participating farmers saw nearly 150% increases in income
NICARAGUA (April 25, 2012) – PCI (Project Concern International) is completing a USDA-funded Agribusiness Development project that started in 2008, targeting the two regions of Jinotega and Nueva Segovia in northern Nicaragua, where poverty and malnutrition levels have traditionally remained among the highest in the country. The project directly benefited over 18,400 small-sized farmers in the area who are organized in 38 cooperatives. Average income of farmers who participated in the project increased from US$5,161 a year to US$12,713 a year as a result of project activities, a 146% increase. Indirectly, the project impacted a larger population of nearly 80,000 people.
The project’s main activities included providing training and technical assistance to improve the quality of agricultural products; improving management of storage, processing and marketing; and strengthening two Centers for Rural Development, founded and supported by PCI in collaboration with a local partner. These Centers for Rural Development are at the core of PCI’s US Department of Agriculture-funded Food for Progress program, and PCI’s goal is to transition them into self-sustaining resource institutions.
The project used different educational methods including Farmer Field Schools, workshops, hands-on demonstrations, and targeted technical assistance. PCI trained a total of 3,995 farmers on agricultural topics including agronomical management of farms; integrated management of coffee, corn, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, onions and other crops; and the use of pest management techniques.
The Farmer Field Schools for farmers and their children have been a particularly successful strategy to teach farming best practices. Rubén Sanabria, a member of the board of a beneficiary cooperative in Jalapa, Nueva Segovia, explains that “the Farmer Field Schools implemented by PCI have allowed the cooperative’s leadership to reach out to its members and they have had a great impact. Today our members have installed a number of cutting-edge technologies in their coffee plantations, including more than 500 low-cost, hand-made pest traps, and more than 174 acres of coffee plantations have been protected with soil conservation techniques…You can see the difference between producers who have participated in Farmer Field Schools and those who haven’t. Because of all these results, the cooperative has decided to implement additional Field Schools on its own.”
Another successful activity was the distribution of agricultural inputs and resources to the cooperatives, allowing them to establish their own “in-kind” lending programs with their respective members. A total of $2,293,443 have been distributed to 3,892 farmers in the form of loans, with a total of 7,760 number of loans allocated. This activity has produced a huge impact in local communities where small farmers do not have access to the local banking system. PCI also trained and helped 4,053 farmers implement farm assessments and plans in their farms, in order to improve the management of their farms, increase profitability and strengthen rural value chains. Farm assessments provide information on the most profitable crops to be produced on the farm, cash flow available, and other information that may be used to equip farmers to add value to their agriculture production and access new markets (such as “fair trade” certified).
With 79.9% of its population living on $2 or less per day, Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. While 46% of the population lives below the poverty line, the incidence of poverty in rural areas (68%) is more than twice as high as that of urban areas (29%). Nicaragua’s health, nutrition, and other indicators are also among the lowest in Latin America. According to the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education, 31.5% of all children are anemic and 46% of children suffer from chronic malnutrition in Nicaragua. Further, Nicaragua is primarily an agricultural economy, yet the country must import cooking oil, wheat and basic grains to meet demand for food; and many citizens still face a daily struggle to obtain adequate food for themselves and their families.
“PCI is proud to help these rural communities in Nicaragua increase their capacity for more successful harvests. We are committed to strengthening these communities, helping them increase their productivity, find practical solutions, and build toward a better future,“ commented George Guimaraes, CEO of PCI.
PCI has worked in Nicaragua for 21 years implementing a wide range of interventions in the areas of community health, maternal and child health, school feeding, water and sanitation, emergency relief and much more, directly benefiting a total more than 300,000 people overall during these 21 years.
To learn more about PCI and its impact of global health and humanitarian work, please visit www.PCIglobal.org or contact Annette Gregg, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications, at (858)279-9690.