Ronald Blandon, Farmer to Farmer Country Director in Nicaragua, presented at the National Dairy Forum in Camoapa, Nicaragua on March 17, 2010. Ronald gave an overview of the Partners of the Americas Farmer to Farmer program and then went into details of the dairy sector in Nicaragua. The dairy value chain was explained with graphics and photos and the levels of technical assistance that FTF is providing at each component of the value chain. Two beneficiaries of the program, Miguel and Lesvy Burgos (father and son) explained how their daily milk production per cow has increased from 7 liters to 9 liters since the visit of one FTF volunteer in November. The volunteer, John Cockrell, recommended a better method for including mineral supplements into the diets of dairy cattle. Previously, the farmers used to put the mineral supplements in just a single feeding trough on one side of the corral area. Cockrell suggested that they put the mineral supplements on the top of the feed and in each feeding trough. The cattle are not use to eating the supplements so many were not bothering to eat it when it was off to the side. Pouring it on top of the feed was an excellent recommendation because it then mixes with their own feed. The cattle don't realize the supplement was added, and all the cattle consume it because they are hungry for their regular food. This small change of including mineral supplements into the cattle feed provided beneficial to the cattle and to the farmers. An increase in production led to an increase in financial returns for Miguel and Lesvy Burgos and they are looking forward to working further with FTF volunteers and to continuously improve their livelihoods.
Pictured above: Miguel Burgos spreading the mineral supplements in the feeding troughs.