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Climate Emergency, Nicaraguan farmers lives already turned upside down

News from Nicaragua | Thursday, 19 September 2019 |

Coffee is no longer viable at lower altitudes. Farmer Ana Maria Gonzalez participates in a coffee to cocoa conversion programme

Coffee is no longer viable at lower altitudes. Farmer Ana Maria Gonzalez participates in a coffee to cocoa conversion programme

Nicaraguan small scale farmers are among the tens of millions of people globally already directly affected by climate change related weather extremes for which they are least responsible.

Ana Maria Gonzalez owns an eight acre, organic smallholding in the hills of northern Nicaragua where she grows Fairtrade coffee, and fruit and vegetables. 

For farmers like Ana Maria, climate change means erratic and unpredictable weather: “When it’s far too hot and we get too much rain straight after dry spells, our crops are ruined. This also provides ideal conditions for leaf rust and other diseases. One year we lost 40% of our coffee crop as a result, for us it was like an earthquake.’

‘The unpredictable weather means that we can’t plan our planting or harvesting. When it’s too hot or dry we can’t plant or fertilise the plants.  Our harvests are lower and we earn less. Less income means less investment to combat the diseases that have increased as a result of weather extremes.’

This sometimes means we abandon other crops to look after our coffee, our main source of income. This is turn leads to food insecurity as we are not prioritising crops for our own consumption.’

In the face of the insecurity caused by climate change Ana Maria and other members of the agricultural co-operative SOPPEXCCA are diversifying their crops, working on mitigation measures such as reforestation, planting more shade trees to protect the crops, building water storage tanks, and campaigning against deforestation in their local area.