FRB's Nicaragua - Boaco program trains young adults to become leaders, equiping them with the skills to teach others in their community about the benefits of sustainable farming practices.
A group of FRB travelers recently visited with participants of FRB’s Nicaragua-Boaco program. The Farmer Field School (FFS)-based program is working to build food security by mitigating the impact of climate change. Local changes in climate are being seen in late, heavy rains followed by a long dry season. The Boaco program plans to work with youth and their families in 19 communities over 5 years in four regions of Nicaragua. Intended results are that families adopt improved farming methods, appropriate storage practices, and planting family gardens and fruit trees.
The activities are focused on youth between the ages of 15 and 30 who will learn farming techniques and then commit to teaching them to four other people in their communities. Women’s groups will also be trained on preserving fruits and vegetables for home consumption and sale.
The use of green-manure cover crops (GMCCs) is one of the farming methods promoted. GMCCs smother weeds, provide cover on fallow ground, rebuild depleted soils by breaking up compaction for greater moisture absorption and retention, and break pest and disease cycles. They also add biomass and, if legumes are used, fix nitrogen into the soil. Velvet bean as a GMCC shows promise at the FFS.
One of the program’s FFS operates on 3.46 acres of land donated by the parents of one of the students. The seven students spoke about the importance of doing side-by-side trials to understand the benefits of various techniques. The garden is just getting underway so they have yet to add demonstrations on composting. The students plan to sell the extra vegetables from their plots.
Pedro, a FFS student with seven siblings, gets help in his garden from his sister Juanita. They have to carry water a quarter mile up a steep slope in order to irrigate. They’ll use their production for home consumption and preserving. Pedro and his sister are very involved in all the activities that the program has to offer, and are looking forward to a planned training on growing crops on sloping land.
The FRB group also visited the farm of Nadine, a FFS and secondary school student who attends classes in the city all day on Sunday. The rest of the week she gardens. She, too, hauls water up a steep slope for her garden. She is growing carrots for juicing.
Nicaragua-Boaco encompasses 19 communities, 1337 households, and 6685 individuals.