NicaNotes: Guest Blog: Farmers Adapting to Climate Change and Improving Crop Yields

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Today’s guest blog is a reprint of an article from Nicaragua Now (Issue 7, Fall/Winter 2016/7), the publication of our United Kingdom sister solidarity organization, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign. The author, Liz Light , is the NSC’s staff person stationed in Nicaragua.


Farmers Adapting to Climate Change and Improving Crop Yields

Liz Light visited San Francisco Libre to find out how farmers are

adapting their agricultural practices.

Saya Coronado

Sayda Coronado

Nicaragua epitomises the vulnerability of developing countries to the major threat we all face: climate change. While Nicaragua is responsible for only 0.3% of global carbon emissions, it is committed to a comprehensive programme to reduce these emissions, implementing mitigation and adaptation measures, and taking a strong stand internationally to put pressure on the largest emitters.

‘The technology exists, the capital exists, the urgency exists, what is lacking is greater political will on the part of the largest emitters.’ Paul Oquist, Nicaraguan Minister for Public Policy.

Confronting climate change: the example of San Francisco Libre San Francisco Libre with its 12,000 inhabitants runs along the northern shoreline of Lake Xolotlán (Lake Managua). The area has been badly affected by climate change related weather extremes and massive deforestation.

With the support of a government agency, the Nicaragua Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) farmers are changing their practices through an agricultural adaptation programme.

Sayda Coronado is a member of a women’s farming cooperative. She is also the local co-ordinator of government programmes such as zero hunger, food package distribution, and a project to encourage healthy eating through backyard vegetable gardens.

‘Traditionally this is an area of cattle farming, basic grains, sorghum, corn, beans, and vegetables. The Sandinista Revolution reforms gave land to small scale farmers and we now have more opportunities as producers, as women and as co-operatives. I’m a member of Bello Amanecer, one of five women’s agricultural co-ops in the area.

‘We’ve had three years of drought made worse by deforestation. The wells and rivers have been drying up and the lake level has dropped considerably. So we’ve had to change our production methods, analyse how to relieve poverty and to generate more income.

‘Corn and sorghum production costs were very high and the intermediaries would end up with all the profit. We still plant some of these crops but now diversify our production. For example, instead of planting eight acres of corn or sorghum we plant one of melon, one of squash, and a half of pepper. We have established a secure market for selling to a company that supplies the supermarkets. This is more regulated so we can sell at a higher price and have seen our incomes improve.

‘My farm is an INTA Rural School where young producers come for training in soil management, pest control, and organic farming methods. We have learned different methods, such as drip feed irrigation systems that conserve water; spacing plants differently; and using compost as fertiliser. We use wind breaks, and plant hedges and other barriers to prevent parasites and pests. Animal manure is used to create organic fertiliser and compost and to make natural insecticides. We also build earth barriers to prevent the soil being washed away and dig pits or small lagoons to harvest water during the rainy season. We apply all these techniques to conserve the soil.’


BRIEFS

  • Daniel Ortega was inaugurated for his fourth term as president (1984-1990 and 2007-2022). In addition to the 14 heads of state who attended in person, Pablo Gutierrez, former director of the Organization of American States (OAS) Electoral Office praised the electoral process and high level of civic commitment. “The electoral process was carried out in peace and ended in peace. This is how democracy works, respecting the will of the people,” he said. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also extended his congratulations and affirmed his commitment to strengthen cooperation with the people and government of Nicaragua. President of the European Council Donald Tusk also talked about strengthening cooperation. “We are pleased to reaffirm our commitment to Nicaragua and to reiterate our desire to work together with your government on all issues pertaining to our shared interest,” he said. Japanese Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent congratulatory messages to President Ortega, expressing their best wishes and reiterating the willingness to strengthen cooperation. And Spain’s foreign aid agency announced a new US$22.8 million grant to support agricultural development in 11 municipalities in the Chontales department and the Southern Caribbean Autonomous Region (RACS). The purpose of the funding is to strengthen capabilities in areas such as climate change mitigation, food security and empowerment of women. (Nicaragua News, Jan. 11, 12)
  • Nicaragua Vice President, Rosario Murillo, announced that this year more than 1.2 million students will benefit from the School Meal Program. She added that 10,400 tons of nutritious food is being distributed including fortified cereal, dates, wheat flour, among others. (Nicaragua News, Jan. 13)
  • A Central Bank report released yesterday states that in 2016 Nicaragua registered 4.2% growth in energy generation and that as a result, 9 out of 10 people now have access to quality low cost electricity service. The report also noted that greater hydro and geothermal production was responsible for the increase in energy generation. (Nicaragua News, Jan. 13)
  • The Nicaragua Institute of Urban and Rural Housing (INVUR) announced that more than 120 thousand new homes will be built with public-private investments during the next five years. The goal of the Housing Plan is to double the number of houses built over the last ten years, offering favorable loans and expanding coverage for affordable housing programs. (Nicaragua News, Jan. 11)
  • The Nicaragua Central Bank announced that formal employment grew 8.5% during the first 11 months of 2016. The report also noted that more than 877,000 workers are enrolled in the Social Security Institute (INSS). Sectors such as construction, transportation, commerce, manufacturing and finance were among the main drivers of this growth in formal employment. (Nicaragua News, Jan. 11)
  • During his investiture as President of the Republic, Daniel Ortega declared the tripartite model of national dialogue between government, business, and labor to be one of the “pillars” of his administration. The model has resulted in years of labor stability, a rising minimum wage, and growth of international investment. COSEP, the leading big business association, also reiterated its willingness to work with the government. The dialogue has in most cases resulted in a consensus minimum wage increase between business and labor every six months since 2007 with talks overseen by the government. When no consensus is reached, the government declares the new minimum wage. (El Nuevo Diario, Jan. 11)
  • The National Assembly held its first session, swearing in new and reelected Deputies for the new term. By consensus the Deputies elected Gustavo Porras as President of the National Assembly, replacing long-time president Rene Nuñez who died in September. Others elected to the Assembly leadership were Maritiza Espinales, first vice-president, Gladys Baez, second vice-president, and Maria Haydee Osuna of the Constitutional Liberal Party, third vice-president. Raquel Dixon was elected first secretary, Wilfredo Navarro, second secretary, and Alejandro Mejia Ferreti of the National Liberal Alliance-Independent Liberal Party, third secretary. Nuñez, Baez, Dixon, are from the majority Sandinista Party and Navarro is allied. Four of the seven officers are women. (El Nuevo Diario, Jan. 10)