Almost all the
families living in the area where SCP works are subsistence farmers
whose first priority is to feed themselves and then to earn a little
cash by selling any surplus. Enterprises include corn, red beans, rice,
grain sorghum, cattle, hogs and chickens. Many face the extra challenges
of living within a protected forest and on very hilly terrain. SCP
has used a variety of sustainable agricultural techniques to both
increase output and reduce damage to the fragile environment.
Diversification to cash crops
Nicaragua has been cultivating sesame for decades with great success.
It’s a crop with low cost inputs and is fairly profitable, receiving
four times the market price for corn. This makes it ideal for small
Sesame was introduced in 2017 to Chacocente to
supplement the farmer’s cash flow. It is a hardy crop and can be planted
twice a year, in May and again in September. In 2017, despite the
effects of Hurricane Nate, several farmers reported good yields of
sesame and plan to continue growing it. Since it is open-pollinated,
they can use current seeds for next year’s crop.
Biointensive organic gardens
Gardening in Chacocente is
difficult due to soils which are hard and infertile. In recent years, a
technique called biointensive gardening has been introduced to improve
soil fertility and texture. Composting is essential to this technique. A
small biointensive garden should produce all the food a family will
need for a year using much less water and space. SCP has trained a
local technician who is bringing organic gardens to several new families
each year. SCP hopes to not only increase the amount of vegetables in
the local diet, but to also improve the economic status of families.
has encouraged reforestation in areas of Chacocente Refuge deforested
through agriculture. Wells make it possible for trees, to be planted
near homes. A large effort has been launched nationwide to replant
native lumber and fruit trees. In 2017, trees were donated by the
Nicaraguan government and distributed among high school students and
local farmers. SCP supported this project with a minor compensation for
each surviving tree.
Past projects in agriculture
has always supported sustainable practices in agriculture. Farmers
were supplied with small agricultural inputs in exchange for following
practices such as contour plowing, crop rotation, erosion barriers and
the cessation of slash-and-burn agriculture. A local agricultural
technician was hired to train the farmers. Other programs provided
cost-sharing for grain silos which protected harvests from losses due to
seed predators and moisture. SCP, together with other organizations,
helped establish a successful Chacocente bee-keeping cooperative.