More Than Just a Cover Crop
Rather than buying nitrogen to fertilize his corn and bean crops, Isaí is growing his own.
Ever since he started farming 18 years ago, he’s watched his yields go down and his production costs go up. He attributed this partly to less rainfall in recent years, but he knew there was something else that he was missing. Even as he wondered how he was going to solve his challenges, he kept farming in the traditional way because he didn’t how or what to change.
Then in 2021 Isaí received a visit from a neighbor who was a participant in the hands-on Farmer Field School offered by local partner Centro Inter Eclesial de Estudios Tecnológicos y Sociales (CIEETS). The neighbor explained what he was achieving on his own land, and within six months Isaí joined the Farmer Field School too.
Isaí said that in addition to new climate-smart farming techniques, he was able to purchase bean, corn, and velvet bean seeds through the program at a fair market price. The velvet beans, a nitrogen-fixing leguminous cover crop, were completely new to him. He planted them in an area that had not produced anything during the previous three years. Even though he was instructed to cut and incorporate the vegetation into the soil once the plant began to flower, he decided to let the velvet bean produce seed first, after he’d heard there was a market for it. He harvested 450 lbs. and kept 50 to plant during the next cycle.
Isaí is currently using velvet bean not only as a way of improving his soil for his corn and beans but as a cash crop. He has done his own analysis and seen how profitable it is. He has one acre of his own land planted with velvet bean and another two acres planted in partnership with another farmer, who observed Isaí’s success and wanted to try it out. Isaí expects a total production of 3,000 lbs. during this planting cycle.
He feels motivated because other families are interested in replicating his experience, and he’s committed to sharing what he knows.
Nicaragua Matagalpa Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner Centro Inter Eclesial de Estudios Tecnológicos y Sociales (CIEETS)