This past fiscal year, rural families working with SHI-Nicaragua improved 1,000 acres through sustainable farming, agroforestry and reforestation. Families planted a variety of tree and fruit species in their mixed-use forests, including avocado, oranges, star apple (Chrysophyllum cainito), peach palm, rambutan and partridge wood (Andira inermis). Families are planting green manures and cover crops in and around their basic grains, like corn, beans and taro, to improve nitrogen levels in the soil and reduce weed growth.
Families in Nicaragua are optimistic about their future and the techniques they have implemented. Isabel Gamez of El Panchon says, “I have diversified my farm and implemented organic farming techniques that benefit my family.”
Lastly, SHI-Nicaragua put the finishing touches on its 15.5 acre demonstration farm, Center for the Family and the Environment. Staff, community members and participants can enjoy the Center as it serves the public and improves the farming techniques taught to participants.
SHI-Nicaragua recently played host to a visit by SHI’s Board of Directors and the annual field staff meeting where staff from all four country programs gathered to share ideas, technology and improve on current work. Everyone contributed to the installation of appropriate technologies, such as drip irrigation, rain catchment tanks and water filters at the local program’s demonstration farm, Center for Families and the Environment. Nearing its completion, the Center serves to demonstrate such concepts as shade-grown cacao, bio-intensive gardens and trees grown to provide forage for goats. The Center assists the local community and offers at-risk youth a place of refuge and self-empowerment.
Program participants in Kukra River and Kukra Hill are busy building upon previous projects to improve soil fertility, which include the stimulation of indigenous micro-organism activity and reforestation efforts. With the support of other national and international organizations, SHI-Nicaragua and its participants have planted over 41,000 trees in environmentally sensitive areas and degraded lands throughout the Cerro Silva Reserve in the South Atlantic region of Nicaragua.
SHI-Belize continues to strengthen the self-sufficiency of local citizens through educational programs. New initiatives include integrated school programs in Toledo and Stann Creek Districts and incorporating bamboo in latrine construction. SHI-Belize is paving the way in innovation by testing plantain and banana stalks as a natural alternative to plastic seedling bags.
With the support of field staff, families have planted over 281 acres of mixed-use forest (agroforestry) and incorporated a variety of native tree species and fruits including bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi) and Honduras mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). Since July, SHI-Belize planted approximately 33,285 trees on those 281 acres - roughly 118 trees per acre. In conjunction with mixed forests, SHI-Belize aided participants in the community of Colombia to establish a small business selling small batches of coconut oil. The group sells the oil to local community members and in the nearby town of Punta Gorda.
In October, SHI-Belize organized and sponsored the first organic fair in the country, giving SHI participants the opportunity to showcase their vegetables, tree saplings and farming techniques. According to participants, the fair was an opportunity to represent the future of small-scale farming in Belize and strengthen their self-esteem.
Antonio Ramirez and his family have been working with Sustainable Harvest since July 2008. He is married with 5 children. Prior to working with SHI, he was only growing basic crops, like corn, beans, cassava and some coffee. Now working with his field trainer, Jorge Rodriguez, he has diversified his plot with different vegetables like tomato, cabbage, onion, beets, mustard, pepper and watermelons, as well as coffee and timber-yielding trees.
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Voices from the Field