Last week, I submitted the last of my paperwork to stay in Nicaragua and continue my internship for an additional three months. I will now be working here until June. The last four and a half months have flown by, and so I anticipate the next four and a half to do the same.
In the meantime, there is a lot to look forward to with our organization and the farmers we are working with. One of the main goals of my internship is to connect the farmers with educational resources inside the country. I have been working on this under the direction of both AsoFenix and Green Empowerment. It has been the most satisfying aspect of my internship so far. We just completed our second workshop with the farmers and professors from the National Agrarian University.
Our first meeting was in Managua, where the farmers were driven in to meet the professors and begin a discussion about some challenges they have been facing.
They also took a tour of the University’s organic garden and composting operations.
Last week, the professors came to the farmers. This was a chance to see the farms and help the producers identify pests and discuss some basic, low cost, organic pest management techniques.
Each professor had prepared a presentation for the producers based on their discussion from the first meeting. The picture below is of a presentation about the development of a tomato plant.
With access to the Internet, (or even libraries for that matter…) this is the type of information that I so easily take for granted. It’s crucial information for farmers, but it doesn’t exist where they live. Only a few of the farmers even know how to read, so when experimenting with new crops or methods of agriculture, there is no real opportunity to do any research.
Our next workshop is in March, with the biointensive farming network in Nicaragua. I am really excited to attend this training myself, but even more excited for the producers to be exposed to this type of information.
Biointensive agriculture is a method based on growing more food in less space, while continually developing the soil to produce greater yields as one continues to work it. Essentially, the polar opposite of conventional agriculture. We are also inviting all the community members with patio gardens. The training can help them produce high quality vegetables all year round in their small gardens.
I think one of the greatest things that will come from this workshop is the idea of developing a farm plan. This is crucial for these farmers, especially while they are experimenting with new crops, yet no one has ever heard of one.
It may prove difficult for the farmers who cannot read, but farm plans can be made through drawings as well. Some creativity will be involved, but I think what’s important is that the farmers start thinking longterm about their farms.