In 2011, with funding from Keurig Green Mountain, we began our partnership with the cooperative to help the community build a long-term plan to fight seasonal hunger. After our initial planning phase with coop staff and workshops with members, SOPPEXCCA established a Food Security Committee, which oversees the coop’s strategic plan and community-appropriate strategies to address “los meses flacos” – the “Thin Months” of hunger.
In 2013, we began the second phase of the project: supporting the implementation of food security strategies identified during the planning process, and establishing appropriate indicators, timelines, and monitoring & evaluation protocols. Key to the coop’s success will be its ability to monitor progress, rather than relying on external partners. To this end, we worked together to build a monitoring & evaluation system that coop staff can use to measure progress and identify impediments to success.
A community-based Food Security Committee was established to oversee all programs and ensure that food security remains an integral part of SOPPEXCCA’s mission.
SOPPEXCCA also created a Youth Committee, an ecological school garden, and nutrition training for youth education. Our implementing partner, Pueblo a Pueblo, trained coop staff and a school rep on basic methodology, including garden management and curriculum development for the classroom.
We’ve trained 100 producer families on the importance of healthy food and nutrition, food security, and crop management, and we’ve trained SOPPEXCCCA staff to conduct these food security workshops.
Last year, 137 families grew 337 acres of beans, representing 243% of the original land area goal and 171% of the original goal for the number of families benefiting. SOPPEXCCA constructed a storage facility that can accommodate 300 tons of basic grains, featuring 51 metal silos to ensure quality.
More than 100 coop members are being trained in the cultivation of at least one alternative crop. A cacao nursery was created in 2014, with a goal of establishing 24,000 cacao plants in 2015. We are developing a business plan with the coop to create a local farmers market to sell member-family crops.
160 farm plans were developed to improve food security and support soil and water conservation practices.
Member-farm integrated soil and water conversation practices have been established, with 7,000 meters of hedgerows planted on 83 farms. Bean seeds were purchased to establish cover crops and improve soil fertility on land with soil fertility problems.
Readers can help by
This program is making a difference for the 670 families working hard to improve their livelihoods and put food on their tables, every day of the year. Over the next two years, we’ll continue to partner with SOPPEXCCA to help them sustain and build on the great strides they’ve made. They’re committed and energized, and we’re excited to be a part of it. The coop needs continued investment to help them sustain and scale this program up to benefit more families in Jinotega. Readers can donate to this project online, or by contacting Janice Nadworny.
Nicaragua, SOPPEXCCA Cooperative, Jinotega
This project will empower the SOPPEXCCA cooperative’s 670 members to build sustainable, locally managed food security, while diversifying their livelihoods.