Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes

by Self-Help International
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Improve Nicaraguan Farmers Nutrition & Incomes
Alcides Torres Gamez filling out a corn format
Alcides Torres Gamez filling out a corn format

For this update on the Fred Strohbehn Training Center in Quinta Lidia, Self-Help International’s Nicaragua team decided to share some first-hand accounts from some of Self-Help’s successful training center participants.  These accounts represent some of the broad range of programs Self-Help offers communities in Nicaragua, from agriculture to clean water to micro-credit loans.

Take a look at what some of Self-Help’s Nicaraguan participants had to say.

 

Agricultural Trainings Double Farmer’s Corn Harvest

Alcides Torres Gamez is a farmer from the community of San Jose, and he was one of the farmers who attended the double groove corn planting technology training. After implementing it on his own farm and seeing the benefits, he wanted to share his experience with Self-Help’s Nicaragua office.

“I remember the first time Jorge Campos from Self-Help International Nicaragua came and invited me to a training session that he was going to lead on improving corn harvest yields. I said to myself, ‘There is no way I’m going to that meeting.’ Believe me, I don’t like those kinds of things,” Alcides said. “But, after thinking for a little while, I decided - well, I guess I can go, and if I don’t like what I hear, I can always leave the meeting.”

Alcides explained, “I liked hearing that my corn harvest would double if I followed the double groove planting method and used proper supplies, such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. I decided to start implementing the double groove planting method, and as a result, I got what Self-Help told me about - a double yield!

“From one manzana (1.74 acres), I used to get 20 to 25 quintals of corn; but with this new method, I got 45 quintals. This allowed me to sell 20 quintals, which produced a profit of US $350, and left 25 quintals for my family to eat.”

He continued, “Believe me, I freaked out when I saw my corn harvest double. From now on, I will continue planting my corn this way, and I’m happy to attend any training sessions that Jorge invites me to. Now, I’m very interested in training and learning how to better my corn yield.”

“Thank you so much for making it possible for me to attend your training. Now I know that it was for the benefit of me and the other farmers here in San Jose.”

In 2018, the QPM program has developed 13 training session, 3 meetings, 2 farmers experience exchanges, and 8 seminars benefiting 146 farmers in 15 communities. From those 15 communities 10 of them have established 51 demonstration plots with the INTA-Nutrader corn using the twin row planting method as part of a strategy to increase the corn harvests and and incomes of the small farmers.

 

Clean Water Trainings Leave a Lasting Impact

Silvio Miguel Rizo Sanchez shared that he is really thankful to Self-Help International, the clean water program, and the Fred Strohbehn Training Center for showing the Water Sanitation Committee (CAPS) members of his community, including himself, how to improve the quality of the water in their communities by learning about managing the CTI-8 chlorinator.  He shared this with Self-Help’s Nicaragua office.

Silvio said, “We hope this isn’t the last training we receive from Self-Help. I appreciate the certificate Self-Help International gave me. Now, I feel like I’m a very important person because I’ve never been recognized before for the work I’ve done to improve the quality of the water in my community.”

“I’ve learned how to calculate the actual rate of water consumption and the rate to charge the community members since we learned step by step how to figure out the costs,” Silvio explained. “Before, we set a price without knowing if we were charging enough to continue to provide better water service to the population of La Cublebra and Argentina. Now, thanks to all the training we’ve gotten from Self-Help International through the clean water program we know that we are charging people a fair price for their portion of the water.”

Geronimo Corrales, president of the CAPS of El Empalme de Cruz Verde, also wanted to express his gratitude for the trainings conducted by Self-Help’s clean water program.

“For me, as president and coordinator of this CAPS, it is a great success to have learned how to make calculations and balance the fees for managing and maintaining the water system,” Geronimo said.

“I learned step by step how to calculate the rate of drinking water in aqueducts, take costs out of the water system, how to find the income and volume of water consumption for each house, and how to find the cost of a cubic meter of water per month. All of this has allowed the CAPS to apply an appropriate fee so that the money collected can be used to maintain and improve water systems.”

“Thank you so much for all the skills we learned through the clean water program. We’re very grateful to Self-Help because they are always supporting us,” he said. “I want you to know that we, the Empalme de Cruz Verde CAPS members, are always ready for a call from Self-Help International representatives to attend any training session or meeting at the Self-Help office. I am very thankful because Self-Help took us into account and gave us trainings to benefit us and our community.”

 

Micro-credit Trainings Bring Better Business

Sita del Carmen Narváez is a 49-year-old woman from the community of Laurel Galán, and she has participated in trainings through Self-Help’s micro-credit program and the Fred Strohbehn Training Center on topics like self-esteem, leadership, business planning, business management, entrepreneurship, basic accounting, and customer service. From these trainings, she said that she has applied the skills in her small tailoring business, and she wanted to tell Self-Help’s Nicaragua team about her progress.

“My cousin and I have several customers for our tailoring business from as far away as Costa Rica, and they call us to make their dresses. When that happens, my cousin and I get excited because we know that we’re implementing good customer service and delivering high quality products to our clients.  Afterward, these clients recommend us to other people!” Sita said.

“I also learned how to advertise my sewing service by promoting my work through Facebook and WhatsApp. Through social media, I apply the self-esteem and marketing skills learned from Self-Help International. Now, I take photos of the dresses or clothes I make and upload the photos to the internet so that people can see them.”

“Before I learned these skills, I was a very quiet woman. Now, my fear of public speaking is gone and I feel like I have a higher self-esteem and I have become very eager to accomplish my goal of becoming a more successful tailor!” she explained.

“All of this is due to the trainings we did through Self-Help’s  micro-credit program. We’re really grateful for all of the support and training we got from Self-Help because we didn’t have much business before Self-Help worked with us.”



Alcides Torres Gamez filling out a corn format
Alcides Torres Gamez filling out a corn format
Geronimo Corrales receiving certificate.
Geronimo Corrales receiving certificate.
Sita sewing a wedding dress in her small shop
Sita sewing a wedding dress in her small shop
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Jorge communicating with the SHI Nicaragua network
Jorge communicating with the SHI Nicaragua network

Translated and edited by William Edwards, SHI Board member, and Caroline Scott, SHI Communications and Development Officer.

Editor’s note: For the past several months political unrest in Nicaragua has made traveling between towns and cities difficult, and the Self-Help International (SHI) staff have had to suspend workshops at the Fred W. Strohbehn Training Center at Quinta Lidia, as well as limit visits to the communities where they work. Jorge Campos, Nicaragua Country Director for SHI, has taken advantage of the circumstances to develop an electronic communications network with farmers in the high-protein corn (QPM) program, using WhatsApp, an instant messaging service. Following is his description of how he uses this network to stay in touch even when travel is difficult.

 

Background:

We have always kept attendance lists from educational events held at the Fred W. Strohbehn Training Center. We started asking for cell phone numbers from the attendees in order to stay in touch with the leaders about the progress and achievements of the producers in the high protein corn (QPM) production program. One day, talking with some farmers, I pointed out that with cell phones, we have not only a telephone, but a source of information about corn production technology, including cultivation, pest management, disease and weed control, fertilization, and post-harvest management, right in the palms of our hands.

I told them, "I can send you all the information about QPM corn, how to plant double-row corn, the distances and densities for sowing seed, the number of seeds and plants that fit in one hectare, a technical guide for agronomic management, a seasonal calendar of agricultural activities, the quantity, formulas and timing of fertilization and pest control, and the products to use.”

Today a farmer in Nicaragua can buy a smartphone for $30 USD. The farmer’s children are the ones who download and use apps such as WhatsApp, a free messaging service available online. We advise the farmers that their children can help them use their phones to learn more about corn production technology and other valuable information.

 

Implementation:

Farmers in the QPM seed production program received the following message:

Friend, to stay well informed and receive messages from the Self-Help International office in Quinta Lidia, send a message to 89*****3 to be added to our contacts and receive relevant updates about our corn program. Include your name, community, municipality, department, region, cell phone number, and the text, “Include me in the QPM Corn Technology group.”

To date we have more than 250 contacts from the Rio San Juan and Ochomogo areas, including farmers, technicians and agro-service owners.  The network has been extended to include community water system leaders and women from the micro-credit program, all of whom receive our communications and information through WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is not a social network, but unlike other messaging applications, you can store and consult messages, photos, and videos, which connects us with the users. So if a farmer has a concern and asks me, I will answer, and if I notice that my answer can help other farmers, I can share it with the rest of the contact list.

 

Sharing Knowledge :

Some farmers have been directly involved in the corn production seminars, while others have only seen the information by WhatsApp and have put it into practice. Now, the farmers send me photographs, videos and messages about their corn production to share with the other members of the QPM network.

When you add messages, diagrams, tables, photos and videos, they are auto-saved in your cell phone so you can continue to consult them. Sharing photos and videos with farmers allows them to revisit the lesson as many times as necessary, and enables them to share information with other farmers who are not in the program. It’s like a virtual training module.

Using technology for mass communication allows us to be in close communication with people even when they cannot travel to meetings or we are unable to visit them. We can send out critical information in a timely manner and share real life experiences among the group.

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Beneficiaries improving their baking skills
Beneficiaries improving their baking skills

In February, our Nicaragua Training Center hosted three sessions in the “Dr. Dale Harpstead Classroom”, one training for each program: clean water, micro-credit, and QPM. In total, 52 participants attended the sessions. The training is meant to improve upon the previously taught skills and take them to the next level through trainings, classes, and workshops.

After several years of training, classes and workshop sessions, our program beneficiaries have learned how to get involved with other people from their community and love to share their new skills with others. They’re accustomed to coming to the Training Center to learn new skills, but one of their main requests was to study higher levels of the skills they’ve already learned from us in order to improve their business and lifestyle. We took into account the needs and interests of the beneficiaries each program as well as their schedules and set up the trainings.

For the clean water program, the CAPS and community leaders were urgently requesting a training on implementing a water project proposal. Focusing on their needs, the Self-Help International Training Center is now providing training sessions on how to execute a project proposal, how to diagnose the water needs and issues in the community, how to make budgets, and more! The first training session took place February 28th, 2018, and 17 participants from different communities attended, representing San José, La Venada, Empalme de Cruz Verde, Nueva Armenia, Caracito, La Argentina, Jerusalén, and La Culebra.

Lidia Maria Gonzalez is a CAPS coordinator from the community of San Jose. In her introduction for the training, she shared, “I am the coordinator of the CAPS in my community because I am always concerned about the quality of the water as I have children and want them to live a better life than the one I had. Water is the most important thing we can all work together to improve for the benefit of our health, and, educating us is the best way to get this through. I’m willing to keep working on behalf of the improvement of the water of my community San Jose as it’s what it keeps us alive and healthy. If we have the source we must take care of it. I also want to thank the people that are always supporting us with trainings like these and for the purification of our water, now we can drink the water without concern of getting ill”.

The QPM program is focusing on teaching strategies to obtain better crop yields. In this case, we are doing trainings and providing the supplies and materials for the farmers to grow demonstration plots. In order to connect area farmers, two farmers trained by the Self-Help International QPM Program, Celestino and Isidro, hosted a group of famers at Celestino’s farm to share their experiences with the new double row planting system using the “INTA-Nurader” QPM corn promoted by Self-Help. Of the 19 farmers who participated, five of them were women, present to learn farming skills to take back to their families. In Nicaragua, farming is a traditionally male-dominated field and based on traditional gender roles it is atypical to see women in agriculture. We are happy to serve anyone who wants to attend our trainings and are to help women step outside of the norm to support their families.

Celestino told the group, “We all have seen that by planting the double row we can take more advantage of the land, get a higher yield, and better quality of corn. My family and I are really thankful for learning this new method of planting corn. This way we can take more advantage of the small land we have to get a higher yield and extra space to cultivate a variety of crops such as beans, cassava, or even plantain. Thank you for being patient and consistent to help us understand that we can do much more if we work our land differently.”

The micro-credit program has been providing trainings for several different skills to the women beneficiaries of this program. Starting last month it implemented a specific training requested by several women to improve the quality of their baked products. They wanted to attain a higher level of baking skill because they have already learned how to bake bread, cakes, donuts, and cornbread among other products and have since been using those skills to sell goods in their communities and earn a living. But, since there are several factory bakeries that come down from Nueva Guinea, San Miguelito, and El Almendro to provide bread to the communities, the women want to be able to compete. They want to improve their bread quality and to produce bread at the same level as the companies do. Following their request, the micro-credit credit program then introduced a monthly training session for those women who really want to become a baked-goods provider to their communities and compete with the outsider companies. They can now attend classes where a representative from one of those companies (San Miguelito) teaches them ways to improve their baking. This course will take 11 training sessions total, and by the end, those women will be able to meet all of their customers needs and expectations, achieving their personal goals as well. In the process they also want to acquire the proper tools to make all this possible, another opportunity to be afforded through a micro-credit loan and/or their profits. They know that it will take time but what they are sure of is the support of Self-Help International.

Thanks to all those who donate money and time to support these women making their dreams into reality.

CAPS leaders training on project proposals
CAPS leaders training on project proposals
Fresh baked goods!
Fresh baked goods!

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Farmers evaluate the double groove application
Farmers evaluate the double groove application

Technification, innovation, invention or topological designs ... whatever it may be, the goal is always to reach the highest yield of corn production per manzana or hectare of land, knowing that our farmers are poor and their yield is less than 20 quintales (approximately 100 pounds) of corn per manzana (1.7 acres). We as farmers, decide whether to apply or not to apply fertilizers, whether or not to use improved varieties, and decide whether we will use hybrids or local maize.

Every farmer wants to reach the maximum yield of corn per manzana. Some have asked me, “How much do I need to invest to reach the maximum corn production in a manzana or hectare?” If this farmer is asking me this question, I know that means that most visitors to the "Fred W. Strohbehn" Experimental Station want to know how we can get the highest yields. This is why I chose to write to you about our exciting new program using “Double Groove Corn” technology

The "Double Groove Corn" technology is our own invention, that is to say, that here at the "Fred W. Strohbehn" Experimental Station of Self-Help International we started designing how to introduce 12 corn plants in a linear meter, to obtain a population density of 12 plants per meter and 120 thousand plants per hectare. We researched how close we could plant the INTA-Nutrader variety (a specific cornseed), using the results we received from a previous simple row sowings experiment where we planted 10 centimeters between the plants and produced medium and small ears. With the simple row sowings experiment, we were not sure that the production was the best way to conduct our experiment.

One of Self-Help’s experienced producers, and my long-time partner, Alfredo,  pioneered the experimentation and application of the technology "Double Groove Maize" here at the Strohbehn training center. He counted the plants and cobs to calculate the yield of his corn in about 7 tons of commercial corn, very distant from the traditional yields of 2.5 tons (50 quintales of traditional yield), which reaches in its land with technification, application of conventional fertilizers and a careful care, investing a lot of family and paid labor, an investment that amounts to more than $15,000 Córdobas ($500 USD).

According to Alfredo and his experiences as a farmer, "The producer saves land, labor and money, when he no longer needs to plant two, three or five manzanas, with one or two well sown with the double corn technique.”

When a farmer is given an improved variety and certified seed, we are already helping them obtain 30% of their yield, not accounting for any type of fertilizer that also may improve yields.

Farmers in the Rio San Juan area sometimes do not apply inputs and others only apply roughly 46% urea at most, once or twice between 20 and 40 days before flowering. As far as we know, fertilizers have to be applied according to the needs of the crop or the nutrient deficiencies identified in the soil, but our farmer does not pay for soil analysis, because his agriculture is nomadic or itinerant, that is, he returns to plant the same plot after two to three years and in some cases, even longer.

We select our herbicide based on what we have found in our land. In some areas the pressure of root pests is so strong that it makes the application of treatments to the seed more granular insecticides mandatory. While in other cases, we can save that second application. The worms are much more aggressive in tropical areas since their cycle is accelerated by heat. The fertilizers are ideally applied based on a soil analysis. In other soils, the nutrients or fertilizers to be more efficient, need a neutral pH. However, for purposes of estimating the profitability of the crop before planting, it is necessary to make some assumptions and estimates, so we decided to publish this article, presenting estimated costs to achieve 6 and 7 tons of corn grain per hectare.

In general, when designing the fertilizer plan to be used, we considered: first, that they were slow-release fertilizers high in phosphorus content (mono-ammonium phosphate: N-10, P-50, K-0), second, to compensate the subtraction of nitrogen for each ton of grain not applying 46% urea, but Ammonium Sulphate with Sulfur (N-21, P-0, K-0, S-24) and Ammonium Nitrate (N-34.5, P-0, K-0) and finally, Potassium Nitrate (N-0, P-0, K-60) to improve the quality of the ear and grain. They all act in what is called "Stay Green" or the "state of Always green" and are considered to accompany the process of maximum accumulation of dry matter, that is, maximum yield of corn. For a small farmer this investment is about 5 thousand córdobas ($167 USD), which will be recovered at the end of the harvest.

We have worked with families to use this “double groove corn” technology.  We found that after the investments in land, inputs, family labor and hired labor, tools and equipment, it can cost a family between $660 - $830 USD. However, the return with this applied technology results in roughly $1,153, even after family consumption. The economic return is greater, and the harvest ensures that the farmer can feed his family. On behalf of the SHI staff, we thank you for your continued support of our farmers.

***Matching opportunity: April 9 - 13***
GlobalGiving will match your gift of up to $50 at 50% as part of their "Little by Little" Campaign. That means that your gift of $50 will fund the inputs needed for a farmer to use the double groove maize technology that will allow him to ensure he can better feed his family.

Bonus: start a monthly recurring gift this week and it will be matched 100%! Act now to take advantage of making your impact go even further - this week only.

Alfredo demonstrates the #of ears w/ INTA-Nutrader
Alfredo demonstrates the #of ears w/ INTA-Nutrader
Different densities of sowing
Different densities of sowing
Phosphorus still maintained in adult green leaves
Phosphorus still maintained in adult green leaves
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
SHI staff and beneficiary try out new stove
SHI staff and beneficiary try out new stove

In the area of San Carlos, Rio San Juan, around 96 families have over the past six months, experienced first hand how to construct an INKAWASI improved stove promoted by Self-Help’s programs and the Self-Help CECAL "Fred W. Strohbehn" Training Center (you may have read about it in our micro-credit officer’s latest report featured here

We’re promoting this stove because it’s a better option for the women to use when cooking so that they won’t be exposed to smoke and its polluting effects. We all know that improved health and caring for the environment are two positive benefits to the families we serve here at the training center. 

This style of stoves drastically reduces the use of firewood in homes. INKAWASI stoves can contribute to improving family health, reduce toxic air pollution, save lives, protect the environment, and improve the economy and subsistence of rural families in southeastern Nicaragua.

We are slowly but surely helping 96 families adopt an innovative approach: that the family must participate and help with the construction of the stove for their own home. The beneficiary family pays the value of $1,500 córdoba (USD $50),  which is the value of the materials that SHI delivers--bricks, concrete plates for burners, and a chimney. We deliver the items and use some of our staff members to help build the stove alongside the family. 

Bertilda, one of the first women to install the improved INKAWASI oven, shared, “When I used the traditional oven, there was always smoke in my stove, my eyes would water and I think I became addicted to smoke. The wood of the roof is still black with soot from the fire. Now with all this information I have learned about the dangers of smoke inhalation, I wonder if my lungs are that black too. I thank the supporters of Self-Help International for the construction of this stove, and that there is no more smoke in my stove.” 

Like Bertilda, many women in our program continue to use traditional cooking methods that are not very efficient and use a lot of wood. Women and children are affected by its impact on health, and many adolescent children and their parents are the ones who bear the burden of collecting and providing the wood they consume in their homes, often times having to fetch it in fields. 

After receiving her loan to construct an INKAWASI stove, Bertilda tells us how she thinks the women will opt in to wanting one of these stoves and make the investment. "In order to accelerate the transition to the use of these INKAWASI improved stoves, it is first necessary to do so with the direct beneficiaries of the programs and then with the families close to them."  She understands that they will see the benefits for themselves. 

To show the women who are curious to see how the stoves work, we started this pilot plan where we have the first 3 stove models at our own CECAL-Fred W. Strohbehn training center, another in a community co-op in San Marcos and San Lucas R.L. of the community of Los Chiles, and in the Community Seed Bank of Ochomogo in Rivas, in addition to the 4 we’ve already built  in beneficiaries’ homes. 

Sandra and her husband Juan were selected to obtain the first improved stove INKAWASI in the community of Las Maravillas (one of the five communities of Los Chiles that belong to the project), with the goal to provide energy efficiency, promotion and protection of forests as an approach to basin and environmental education in San Carlos, led by the NGO - ASODELCO in the micro-basin of the San Agustín River). 

With the benefits that come with the changes and innovations of using this improved INKAWASI stove, we are still left with the challenge of women using unsafe or unhygienic cooking practices. For this reason, we developed 9 training workshops. Throughout these activities we successfully built 8 INKAWASI stoves, affecting 96 beneficiary families, brought 7 technicians from Self-Help International, 1 Peace Corps Volunteer technician, and 7 technicians from the NGO-ASODELCO, resulting in a 111 participants this year.  

To meet the challenge of improving cooking practices, Self-Help International has also expanded its commitment to train both women and men in the construction of the INKAWASI improved stoves in 2018. We have created four major training events that  have been developed in the construction, use, management, and maintenance of the stoves, so that every day there are more women who have access to cleaner and healthier cooking solutions in their homes and to diminish the impact on the natural resources of the San Carlos area.

These innovations translate into innumerable benefits and individual stories and thanks to the help provided by Self-Help International through its programs, now more women and children can enjoy more time with their family and less time cooking and collecting firewood because of your support.  Now, the focus is on finding more beneficiaries who are willing to achieve cultural change and apply the lessons learned from the first women who set out to achieve it. 

Self-Help International will continue to facilitate this transition to non-polluting cooking methods and is committed to the  fundamental development benefits such as improving women's health, reducing air pollution and helping mothers spend more time with their families while continuing to provide more economic opportunity.



word spreads in the community, & families gather!
word spreads in the community, & families gather!
locals receive a presentation about the stoves
locals receive a presentation about the stoves
the community also learns the health benefits
the community also learns the health benefits
Fathers join SHI staff to help construct stoves
Fathers join SHI staff to help construct stoves
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @SelfHelpIntl
Project Leader:
Katie Seifert
Waverly, IA United States
$3,835 raised of $7,020 goal
 
62 donations
$3,185 to go
Donate Now
lock
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Self-Help International has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.