Farming Again … This Time, With Results!

Doña Adilia nearly gave up farming. Then she learned about conservation agriculture, and her enthusiasm is through the roof!

She lives with her son and his family on a little plot of land she inherited from her father. She farms basic grains, mainly corn, beans and sorghum, but she also has some fruit trees and medicinal plants.

“I’ve been farming since I was little, but we never knew how to care for our soils like we do now. We thought we were doing the right thing, plowing, and burning crop residues, but over time the soil fertility went down and we harvested less and less. It wasn’t even worthwhile to plant corn or beans anymore because we weren’t getting much in the way of yields.”

Catholic Relief Services invited Adilia and her neighbors to a meeting about an agricultural opportunity that was aimed at improving their soils and yields and helping them to organize better as a community. “And that’s when it all started,” she says.

The first workshops were about gauging the quality of the farmers’ soils, and going over best practices like abandoning plowing and burning, planting cover crops to conserve moisture, and making organic fertilizers and pesticides to supplement the chemical inputs they learned to use correctly and sparingly. Then they received a variety of certified-organic, drought-resistant seeds that were appropriate for their dry area. Tips on plant spacing, crop management and harvesting came next.

Their yields improved to the point that they realized they could save some corn and beans for the following season. They started a small community seed bank where they store seeds to loan out at planting time, and the farmers repay the seed bank at harvest.

Because Adilia also joined a community savings and loan group, she was able to purchase enough corn and firewood to begin making and selling tortillas. She now has a daily income that she did not have before, and when people in the area don’t have the time or energy to make their own, they are glad to have delicious tortillas for purchase so close to home.

Adilia is thrilled that farming is paying off again, so she can help her family with all their expenses. “We are very grateful to the people whose donations make this possible so that we, as poor farmers, can get ahead,” she said.

Nicaragua Estelí Program
Led by Catholic Relief Services

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