Work First, Blessings Later
Ramón says, “Ever since I knew my name was Ramon, I have been working the soil in order to put food on the table. I knew that any time I put a seed in the ground, the Good Lord would give me back something. But, with the traditional farming I learned from my parents, our yields kept getting lower and lower because of poor soil, droughts and other unpredictable weather.”
He likes talking about the benefits he’s seen from changing his way of farming through the Farmer Fields School provided by local partner Fundación San Lucas. Experimenting on his own land with techniques suggested by the Field School, he settled on Conservation Agriculture as his preferred method of farming.
Now, for example, he still digs a small hole for the seed, but he fills the hole with compost before the seed goes in. After planting, he mulches with leftover plant matter from harvest which he would previously have burned. “It helps keep the soil moisture from evaporating, and later it decomposes and makes the soil rich. That is how I am conserving my soil.”
The first time he harvested corn and tomatoes after this change, he says, “The tomatoes that year were ridiculously big. It was the best result I’d ever had! Planting that way works even though our climate is so variable.”
Ramón admits to having felt annoyed when a training session covered the importance of manure. It was just a lot of extra work to deal with it. “But now I know I have a fertilizer factory!” he laughs.
He encourages his friends and neighbors to put in the extra effort as well. He just tells them to experiment on a small plot like he did, so they can compare the results with their traditional practices. He admits that Conservation Agriculture can be more work at first, and understands that this is why some people give up on it. “They don’t realize the work comes first, and the blessings come afterward!” says Ramón with a big smile.
Nicaragua Conquista Nandaime Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner Fundación San Lucas