Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nicaragua Dairy Project Yields Encouraging Results

Marta Fajardo (left) with FTF Volunteer Yoana Newman
Dairy farmer Marta Fajardo raises around 60 cows on an 85-hectare farm in the Camoapa region of Nicaragua.  She has been working with Farmer to Farmer volunteers for several years to help improve her milk quality, herd health, forage and feed options and more.  During a recent visit to her farm, Marta was excited to report increased calving rates – double what they had been in the past. Marta’s cows now calve every year rather than every other year, and Marta is happy to attribute this exceptional increase to the mineral salt she now adds to her cow feed – the suggestion of a Farmer to Farmer volunteer. Marta’s cows have also increased their milk production from three to three and a half liters per day, and she has seen other improvements in her farming systems.

Because one of the key aims of the Farmer to Farmer program in Nicaragua is to aid farmers in producing more, contaminant-free milk, stories like Marta’s are a source of pride for the Farmer to Farmer team.  In the recent Midterm Review of the program, Farmer to Farmer was pleased to see that many of the participating producers in Nicaragua have seen marked improvements in milk quality, market access, and milk sales.  These improvements wouldn’t be possible without the technical assistance and training from volunteers on topics such as the use of genetics in breeding stronger, healthier cattle; post natal care; forage and food nutritional value; safety, hygiene and sanitation; and much more.

FTF volunteers looking at silage on the Fajardo farm. 
Despite these exciting results, Nicaraguan farmers still have challenges.  Improved record-keeping is a top priority and solutions to the issues related to milk spoilage are still a concern, among other topics.  Farmer to Farmer plans to have volunteer assist in these areas, as well as continue to provide training in all areas of the dairy value chain.  The data and positive feedback from local producers to date speaks volumes: thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers and staff alike, the Farmer to Farmer program is empowering farmers, and aiding in the attainment of food security and economic growth in Nicaragua.

To volunteer with the Farmer to Farmer Program, visit http://www.partners.net/partners/Volunteering.asp

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