2-6-19  |  Our Programs Partnership Success Partnerships Success Story

Fighting yellow aphid with an innovative tool

BY: Beatriz Soto

 

“Many farmers lose everything because they either lack the knowledge or don’t respond on time. But with the new tool, this can be avoided.”

 

– “The yellow aphid is an aggressive and persistent pest. Check your plantation after three days of applying the product to observe its effectiveness.”

“Apply liquid fertilizer (foliar feeding) directly to sorghum leaves, 45 and 65 days after germination.”

Every day, at 5 o’clock in the morning, Edelberto receives one of these text messages on his cell phone to guide him on climate change adaptation practices to protect his crop from plagues and diseases.

“I used to produce 70-60 qq per mz without major difficulty. But now, if I don’t follow the foliar feeding technique, the yellow aphid can destroy the whole production,” explains farmer Edelberto Martínez, member of cooperative “Los Pellizcos de Chichigalpa” in Chinandega, Nicaragua. The cooperative benefits from Nutriendo el Futuro, a regional Corporate Social Responsibility initiative of Cargill in partnership with CARE and executed in Nicaragua by Fabretto Children’s Foundation.

Edelberto has been a farmer for the past thirteen years. However, he was born in a farmer family and has been following the footsteps of his father since he was just a child. “I grow and harvest basic grains such as rice, sorghum, corn and soybeans,” he says. But more recently, things have complicated due to a strong rise of plagues, droughts, and flood, all of which are consequences of climate change and the only way to get ahead with production is through adaptation measures.

In order to help local farmers with climate change adaptation techniques, a novel tool has been developed through Nutriendo el Futuro project in Nicaragua, providing farmers with effective and periodic technical assistance. “Many farmers lose because they either lack the knowledge or don’t respond on time. But with the new tool, these things can be avoided,” comments Edelberto, while checking the sorghum panicles in his small crop plot, still in the flowering stage.

Calendar of Agronomic Practices on Crop Production is the name of the tool designed by Nutriendo el Futuro team, which benefits farmers in the western region of Nicaragua. Through this tool, farmers can take control over the growth process of the crop (in this case sorghum), and calculate with accuracy when to apply fertilizers, as well as evaluate and monitor crop during critical stages of production. The calendar is linked to a text messaging platform, which allows the farmer to receive precise indications according to sowing date. It also has lunar cycles to combine valuable empirical knowledge. The tool has been developed in collaboration with experienced farmers, scientists, and specialists.

“Any of us, (experienced farmers) can make mistakes and forget important information, specially when we are overwhelmed with other responsibilities. That’s why these text messages are so effective, because they remind us about important information at every crucial moment. As soon as we get a text message, we are prompt to take action.  It’s so good! It has also been useful for young farmers who are just getting started, and who may not have as much knowledge,” explains Edelberto, one of 300 farmers who benefit from the innovative tool in the municipalities of Chinandega, Chichigalpa, and El Viejo in Nicaragua. Through the Project, not only have farmers benefited from the new tool, but also from technical assistance in the development and foundation of cooperatives.

 

“These text messages are effective, because they remind us about important information at every crucial moment. As soon as we get a message, we are prompt to take action!”

 

“Before, we were only a group of farmers, but now we are part of a formal cooperative,” explains Edelberto, making reference to the impact the Project has had in their lives since 2014. “Before, everything was done manually, with the use of horses and oxen, and pieces of paper to hold seeds. But now that we have a seed drill, the seed selection is faster and more efficient. The drill has also allowed us to plant broader areas; in my case, I have planted up to eight mz in a single day, significantly reducing costs.”

Before the long work day concludes, Edelberto has a meeting with the cooperative at the Héctor García school in the community of El Pellizco. Today, cooperative members will define details for their next sorghum sell. “Together, as a cooperative, we can achieve better results.”

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