In 2020, we issued loans to two families led by Deisy Gonzalez and Elizabeth Castro, to plant and harvest corn. We observed and learned a lot during this first phase of Grow For Good. It became increasingly obvious that the local market does not reliably offer fair terms for small farmers like Deisy and Elizabeth. Without access to better markets, farmers often have to accept the offer of intermediary “coyotes’ ‘that buy low in rural communities and sell high in the urban centers. In the future, we hope to become a dedicated buyer of basic grains in Los Robles, for our own food security programs, as well as to sell in more stable markets in Jinotega and Managua. We also learned that the unpredictability of mother nature can dramatically affect results. In 2020, the hurricane season was historic with two category 5 hurricanes arriving within two weeks of each other, disrupting the essential drying process for the corn harvest throughout Nicaragua.
While these storms were devastating for Elizabeth, Deisy was more prepared. Upon reflection on her participation, she told us about how she mitigated the bad weather. First, her land was ready. She took the initiative to till and prepare the soil for planting which allowed her to plant on time. She received her loan in May and had seeds in the ground by early June. She paid close attention to the changing weather and harvested all her corn just days before the heavy rains arrived. In the end, she did lose some of her harvest to damaged wet corn, but was still able to fully repay her loan and store a good portion of her corn, which she used to make and sell traditional dishes.
Elizabeth and Francisco Castro
Comunidad Connect is uniquely positioned to facilitate a vertical integration from seed to consumption (and we’re even working on the bathrooms too!). As we invest in more farmers like Deisy, food production should increase throughout the community. As needed, we will buy and store the surplus at our farm in Los Robles. Thus, the meals prepared for our “Food For Good” program will ultimately be fueled by the productivity of local farmers.