ACJ Update July 2019

We are grateful for the work of our partner organization Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes (ACJ).  They do an excellent job helping families out of poverty in difficult regions of rural Nicaragua.

ACJ has two landbanks that are in the final stage of the program.  They have had the land surveyed and are now waiting for the land titles to be delivered.  We praise the Lord for the hard work of the farmers over the years to develop their farms and be able to repay their land loans.  The landbank project has many challenges as well as many blessings along the way.  It is great to see the success of these projects and we celebrate the fact that we can finish our support for these two projects and move on to new projects.

ACJ and Farmer to Farmer (F2F) have been working on a new project over the last few years.  The initial landbanks, though successful, had many challenges.  One of the main challenges was that farmers did not have access to good markets, both for inputs and for sale of products.  Due to this main challenge, ACJ and F2F have started a Cocoa Business Initiative.  Through this project a facility has been built to process raw cocoa into the dried form ready for market.  Cocoa has to go through a fermentation process before it can be dried for transport and sale.  This process needs to be done soon after harvest so a facility near the farms is required.  Currently ACJ has over 40 producers that are growing cocoa that plan to sell to ACJ for processing.  Cocoa is a tree crop and it takes 3-4 years before you get a harvest.  The cocoa trees that were planted as part of this project will have their first harvest in the fall of 2019.  The building for this is already complete and they should be ready to start processing this fall.  Currently there are more than 40 acres planted.  ACJ plans to increase the acres of cacao to around 170 within five years. This should provide the cocoa business with enough product to run profitably and efficiently with the facilities that they have.  Much of the work this quarter for ACJ has been to get cocoa grafts ready, train growers, seek out new potential growers and maintain their small cocoa nursery.   Please pray that this enterprise will progress well and provide better access to markets for the farmers in the area so that they can better provide for their families.

We are grateful for the work of Lenin and Sophia and all of the others at ACJ that make this work happen.

AMC Update June 2019

We are grateful for the work of the field staff at Acción Médica Cristiana (AMC) based in La Dalia, Matagalpa, Nicaragua.  They are doing a great job with the partner farmers on the landbanks.

This past season has been a struggle for the farmers on the landbanks of Acción Médica Cristiana (AMC). They have been struggling this past season with low yields of coffee and red beans due to excessive rainfall events.  Coffee yields were around 13 to 15 qq/mz and the expectation was 20 to 25 qq/mz. Red bean yields ranged from 6 to 12 qq/mz and the expectation was 18 to 25 qq/mz.  (1 qq/mz is roughly equivalent to 1 bu/A.).  During the past quarter AMC has conducted trainings on coffee, cocoa, achiote (a plant used to make various dyes), as well as trainings on diversification in other crops such as plantains, cocoa, and various fruits and vegetables. 

AMC continued its pilot marketing project as well.  From January through March AMC brought the following to market: 2,139 plantains, around 800 lemons of various varieties, 381 lbs. annatto (achiote), 956 lbs of cocoa, 3,422 lbs of coffee, 13,788 lbs of red beans, and small amounts of various other produce.  AMC is studying the feasibility of setting up a marketing project or company.  Currently AMC is purchasing products from the farmers and taking them to sell in the markets in La Dalia and El Tuma.  Initial response from the farmers has been good and there is opportunity to increase this to a full-scale marketing project.  To make this into a sustainable business for AMC and provide extra markets to the landbank farmers a full economic study is planned over the next several months.  

AMC also continued its “Seed Fund” this quarter.  Through this fund, input and operating loans are made to landbank farmers and repaid post-harvest.  Interest is charged to the farmers and currently this interest is being reinvested to increase the amount of loans AMC can make.  So far, this program has had a 100% repayment rate.

AMC was also able to land deeds to six partners at the El Progresso landbank.  Also, there were eight other partners at this and the other landbanks that are very close to graduating as well.  The process is under way to get their deeds processed.

You can support Farmer to Farmer through the Partners Worldwide website. Please choose “Nicaragua: Farmer to Farmer” from the dropdown menu.

Maria Obando Diaz

We are pleased to be able to share another partner farmer story with you. Please meet María Obando Díaz. This is her story in her own words.

“My name is María Obando Díaz, I am 48 years old, mother of five children; three boys and two girls.  I am a beneficiary of the Nueva Jerusalen land bank, in Guapotalito, in el Tuma, la Dalia. Nicaragua. I live with two little grandchildren ages of 2 ½ and 3 ½ years and all my children are working outside the community.”

“All my life I worked in farms, with a machete.  Every day I had to do it, even if I was sick, because they could fire me.  What I earned was not enough to save and buy my own plot.  There were times when there was no work in the farm.  They gave me a place to stay but I had to go and look for food in another place; so sometimes I only ate cooked bananas that some people gave me.”

“Nine years ago, while working at Hacienda San Jose, a man named Denis Centeno, told me that he had been financed by an organization, at low cost and with long-term payments, and he urged me to apply.  My lack of faith did not let me act, but 15 days later he told me again and I decided to make a request.”

“On January 30, I completed 9 years on this plot of land and being a member of Acción Medica Cristiana.  I came with my children and at first it was difficult, and I did not think I had the capacity to pay.  There came a time when I thought I would leave and go back to work at the farms, but the engineer told me, ‘you already have what you need, now it’s just work and that you do very well.  Stop the fear and continue.’”

“Thanks be to God, I do not lack food because in the plot I produce plantain, bananas, yuccas, malangas. I never thought I was going to sell my own coffee or cocoa, now I do it from my own farm.  I believe in God that soon I will pay my plot, that I am going to inherit it to my children so they can work it and sustain me when I can no longer work.”

“Those words encouraged me and I gave up on leaving the plot.  My children and I started working.  Today I have three manzanas (5 acres) of land that I never thought I had. 1 mz has coffee, with ½ in development and ½ productive, I also have 1.5 mz of cocoa that in 3 years will be productive.”

“Having this plot is a blessing.  My two grandchildren with whom I live are now food secure.  I feel the relief of being in my own house, plot and work, without the fear that if I get sick, they can fire me.  I only have to thank God and all who make it possible for many families like mine to enjoy their own land.”

Support Farmer to Farmer and help other farmers like Maria. Please choose “Nicaragua: Farmer to Farmer” from the dropdown menu.

Adela Gonzales Martinez

Meet Adela Gonzales Martínez, producer in the Corona community (in the department of Boaco) and a beneficiary of the cocoa project with Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes (ACJ).  Several of her grandchildren live with her.

“I am beginning to see the fruits of cocoa planting, and shortly I will have the first harvest from the 0.5 manzana (about 0.8 Acres) that I planted through the program with ACJ.  I have benefited and it will help my family more, because we will have additional income.”

“Currently on this plot of land I plant coffee and fruit trees that I already can harvest from.  However, this is very tedious, and I have seen that it is more expensive than cocoa.  This cocoa plot gives me more benefits and so I would like to replace the coffee with cocoa.  Plus, I plant some fruits like passion fruit, and I harvest some orange trees.  I harvest plantain for food, and I rent land for corn and bean crops that will be used mostly for family consumption but also to sell some.  In this way I get income to support my family.”

“In the plot my grandchildren and some children also help me some.  However, normally I am the one who works in the crop and I do what the technician trained me to do in the sessions that I attended.  So, to date I know more about the crop and the care that must be done.”

“Currently in the plot I have the desire to plant more areas of cocoa, bananas and areas of corn and beans.  This way in the future we should have plenty of food and be able to sell more products that we produce.”“Though this program we already have something to leave our children.  I thank God first and ACJ NICARAGUA for helping us participate in this project of land banks.”

Support Farmer to Farmer and help other farmers like Adela. Please choose “Nicaragua: Farmer to Farmer” from the dropdown menu.