What is the best way to learn something new? You learn from the best! Juan is one of the finest farmers in Jinotega, Nicaragua. He has dedicated his life to agriculture and the production of basic grains. At 63 years of age, his wife and 8 children support Juan in his work and his service to the community as a health volunteer, church leader and Esperança volunteer. today he and his family are pillars of leadership in the community. But, there was a time when Juan and his family were barely surviving, living with limited resources. He had no hope of additional income for a better quality of life. Little did Juan know, but Cacao also known as chocolate was going to transform his family’s life.
In 2011 Juan took a chance, and because of your support he was selected to be a part of a new organic cacao project. The goal of the project was to introduce organic cacao growing to farmers in rural Nicaragua, creating an opportunity for economic growth for the benefiting families. Right from the beginning of the project we could see the leadership of Juan’s experience and passion as a farmer emerge. He quickly became the leader of the farmers benefiting from the organic cacao program.
He organized program beneficiaries into groups of 10 farmers per community served by this project. After Juan went through the training on growing the new crop, he provided training and technical assistance to other growers, volunteered to prepare the land with them, and helped clean and disinfect it in preparation for organic growing.
Juan used his years of experience growing other crops to recommend supplies such as bio-fertilizers and natural insecticides. Once the seed growing period had been completed, the cacao trees needed to be properly cared for in order for them to produce. Through this time Juan dedicated himself to ensuring that the cacao seedlings were tended properly. His wife María was alongside him during this whole time, in the fields with him, at meetings with him. She did this to show that she supported this new effort for their family.
Now we arrive at 2014-2015 when the cacao trees have reached maturity and are starting to produce. These cash crops need access to the local markets and that is where Juan’s and his family’s hard work is paying off. With your help Esperanca is now building a storage and processing facility that will allow Juan and other growers to store and market their cacao! Juan is thrilled now that he is able to earn a living and market his product at a good price. With his hard work and dedication, he has been able to expand his plot of land, which will yield more cacao plants and beans with each growing season. This will increase his income and bring a better quality of life to his whole family while at the same time continuing to increase his production year after year.