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Farmers confronting climate change

News from Nicaragua | Monday, 21 November 2016 |

Sayda Coronada attending her crop of peppers

Sayda Coronada attending her crop of peppers

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.

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 commenting on the lack of ambition on the part of industrialised countries.

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 resulting in marked temperature rises, a reduction in crop yields, and the drying up of rivers.

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 how 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 for training in soil management, pest control, and organic farming methods. We have learned different farming 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.”

For information about the Reading – San Francisco Libre twinning link see www.sanfranciscolibre.org

Join us at Latin America Conference Saturday 26 November to find out more about how climate change is affecting Nicaragua.