Richland Center - Santa Teresa
Sister City Project


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 farmers. 

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.

Tree planting

SCP 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

SCP 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.