Heydi, 32, a farmer in the disaster-prone area of Nicaragua along the Coco River (Río Coco) on the country’s eastern coast, now has the knowledge to provide food for her family thanks to training she receives at her local agricultural training center. FRB’s Río Coco program operates in the indigenous communities of this geographically isolated region which suffers from extreme rates of poverty, malnutrition, and vulnerability to climate change and natural disaster. After Hurricane Felix in 2007, local partner Acción Médica Cristiana created the center to offer communities appropriate agricultural practices to help them grow food in spite of the loss of trees and topsoil.
Before her involvement with the program, Heydi explains, she did not even know how to plant corn or beans. Now she and other farmers attend educational workshops and receive hands-on instruction from agricultural engineers who visit their farms. They learn techniques for boosting soil fertility and crop productivity such as diversification, crop rotation, and organic insecticides. Heydi has a worm farm that produces organic fertilizer, an inexpensive alternative to chemical options.
Her learning spirit is an inspiration others in her community. She says, “You must have an open and optimistic mind in order to learn: if you believe you can’t do something then you will not be able to do it.”
Diomedos, married and with two young sons, used to slash and burn the land each season as prescribed by a regional belief that “If you don't burn, you don't harvest.” Now, after experiencing improved yields from alternative farming techniques he’s learned at the center that also heal the land, he realizes “There is no need to slash and burn.”
He’s able to grow fruits, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, cucumber, rice, beans, yuca (a tuber), plantains and more. He’s always farmed in order to feed his family, yet now that he produces more than they can eat he’s able to earn income from sale of his excess. He’s been able to build a kitchen and replace a roof with his earnings, and now has a cow, some pigs, and chickens.
Diomedos is now a knowledgeable leader in his community, and he’s glad to share his knowledge of environmentally friendly farming techniques with anyone who asks.