Friday, June 17, 2016

F2F Country Highlight: Nicaragua

Since 2014, Partners of the Americas has facilitated 52 Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer trips to Nicaragua. F2F field staff, local hosts, and volunteers have worked hard to create collaborative solutions to complex community problems. Check out the incredible F2F partnerships we’ve formed in the past few months!

Cattle and Dairy

F2F volunteer Daniel Shaneyfelt give a lecture on
improved cattle ranching techniques.
Over the past 3 years, Partners has been working diligently with the Nicaraguan government, the National Cattleman’s Commission of Nicaragua (CONAGAN), the Nicaragua Chamber of Beef Industry Exports (CANICARNE), and the Nicaraguan Chamber of the Dairy Sector (CANISLAC) to strengthen the domestic cattle and dairy industries from all ends of the value chain. F2F assignments have ranged from advising smallholder farmers on hygienic milking practices to establishing a national beef grading and certifications system for the country. Farmers have reported an extreme uptick in interest and investment in the cattle and beef industry in Nicaragua, providing new economic opportunity for young entrepreneurs. Livestock production (meat and dairy) in Nicaragua represents the country’s most important economic activity, accounting for 10% of GDP and 27% of total exports.

Not only is this good news for Nicaraguan farmers, but it has created a unique space for the transformation of Nicaraguan dietary habits. With little nutrition education in schools an all-around low dairy consumption rates, CANISLAC sought the help of F2F to create of a national nutrition education campaign to increase domestic dairy and meat consumption in the country. Several F2F volunteers have contributed to this campaign through running focus-groups, appearing on national television, and conducting behavior-change studies to encourage milk consumption over other sugary beverages.  

Women and Youth

Community-building activities brainstormed by youth during
a 4-H workshop led by F2F volunteer Dustin Homan.
Engaging women and youth has been a top priority for F2F Nicaragua. Through assisting women-led farming cooperatives in Nueva Guinea and teaching youth valuable life skills, this strategy focuses on strengthening the ability of vulnerable groups to create sustainable livelihoods and invest in their communities. F2F volunteers recently led a 4-H leadership workshop with Nicaraguan Youth where they set goals for their community, including building sports facilities, hosting cultural events, and bringing electric lights to their school. To read more about our work with Nicaraguan youth, find out what bananas and beef jerky have in common for students at Fabretto Foundation. 

Soil Conservation

Have you ever thought about the health of the soil that grows your food? F2F trainings on soil conservation in Nicaragua convey valuable technical knowledge to smallholder farmers. In 2015, volunteer Rip Winkel observed extremely low levels of soil fertility and acidity during his F2F assignment in Nueva Guinea, Nicaragua. As a result, soil conservation outreach and education were recommended in this region. By holding in-field workshops using simple indicators of soil erosion and fertility, Rip began the incremental process of technology transfer. In May of this year, Rip’s recommendations were further carried out by volunteer Andrew Margenot, who followed up through additional farm visits, lecture-discussions, and demonstrations. This type of volunteer collaboration is a key way F2F field staff work to ensure F2F solutions are properly understood, being applied, and successfully replicated.

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