Since 2017 Esperanca has been working with rural communities in Nicaragua to provide land grants and ongoing agricultural education to improve the sustainability of small farmers in the region. Over 200 families have participated across 8 communities. The group has also built and maintained 4 new seed banks. Petrona is one such participant who recently shared her story and the continued impact of this project during the time of COVID-19.
My name is Petrona del Carmen Rizo Centeno, and I am an Agroecological Promoter of the Zapote Community in Nicaragua where my objective is to improve the diet and overall distribution of food for my family as well as other families in my community, especially during times of scarcity.
As a beneficiary of this program I am very happy, especially because I have learned to value myself, to empower myself, and to decide what I want to do, because the reality in the countryside is a world where men are the owners of land and everything else.
Three years ago, Esperança provided me with $850 for the purchase of half a block of land, which has improved my living conditions. I can produce on my own, decide what I want to grow on my plot and what I should buy with the income obtained from production. Since the goal has always been to improve the food security of my family and other families with healthy and diversified production, we follow the motto, "we are moving forward producing and conserving".
During my time working with Esperança, the training processes have strengthened my theoretical and practical knowledge to carry out efforts at the municipal level. I represent 29 women who fight for the legalization of land plots so that the government grants us the title, and to have the lands in royalties. So far three women have ownership. It is a construction process and a lot of effort for us as women. The most important thing is that we have a place where we can produce our own healthy food without chemicals. Esperança has taught us to make insecticides, repellants, calcium sulfide broth, ash broth that we use to control pests and diseases in crops, as well as biofertilizers, and this way ensure that the crops grow healthy and strong with high yields and free of chemicals.
We have considered agroecological production to build resilience to climate change, and experiences have been shared with other producers for the implementation of different systems and obtain a diversified production. This year I am very happy because the winter was very good, and I managed to harvest 3,500 pounds of beans and have sold 1,100 pounds at $38 to pay the land credit and cover other basic household expenses. The remainder will be reserved for seed for the second season.
One of the greatest impacts for the families in my area is that amid the pandemic we have managed to produce a surplus of basic grains (beans and corn) and thus guarantee food even in times of crisis.