$93,321 needed of $100,000
Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
Estelí is located in Central America’s Dry Corridor, a region that stretches from Guatemala to Western Nicaragua. This area represents one of the places most affected by climate change over the last two decades. Seasons are getting both hotter and dryer. Precipitation is increasingly sporadic and when it does come it is intense, washing away topsoil and providing little benefit to the crops small holder farmers are growing.
The Diocesan Caritas of Estelí is working with families to help them adapt to these changes through the promotion of water smart agricultural practices and practices that increase the organic matter content in soils. These techniques build soil health over time, leading to increased yields. Crop diversification will improve families’ diets. Training on marketing surplus crops and the formation of savings and lending (SILC) groups will help families improve their incomes and launch new small businesses.
Nicaragua Estelí Program Update
Conserving Soils Key to Resiliency
Doña Silvia confirms that, as expressed by the subtitle of the program (“Somos Resilientes”), she and her family are indeed resilient.
Except for her husband’s seasonal work picking coffee, agriculture is the sole source of income for the couple and their two children. But things weren’t going so well for them even before drought and back-to-back hurricanes made them feel desperate.
On their tiny plot of land, they produced only small quantities of corn, beans and sorghum. Their results were modest at best because of erosion and little knowledge of ways to bolster soil fertility. They occasionally burned the stubble after harvests and would see a small bump in their yields from the nutrients in the ashes. But after losing their meager crops during Hurricanes Eta and Iota, Doña Silvia thought their only option was to emigrate.
Soon after, however, the program came to the community and offered alternatives: training, seeds and inputs in time for planting. And the rainy season has been good so far this year. “Thanks to the rainy season that has favored us, and the plant residue we left on the ground, the crops are beautiful and we are hopeful that there will be a good harvest.”
Doña Silvia had always been “strictly a housewife,” with her husband doing all the farming, but now they share the work. She is proud of the fact that she has been involved in crafting the family’s resilience plan and the design of their diversified farm, and that she now knows how to identify and solve production problems “in the short or long term.”
“Another important aspect of the program for me is the internal saving group,” she says. “There we have learned to save and set aside for the future. If we have a need, we can borrow from the group and solve the problems that arise for us, whereas before we had nowhere to turn.”
“Therefore, for my part I am grateful for the support I’ve received, especially from the technicians with their training sessions at the Farmer Field School. I have learned to take care of the soil and crops and improve the living conditions of my family and my community. We’re all better off because we share knowledge,” concludes Doña Silvia.
Nicaragua Estelí Program
Led by Catholic Relief Services