“Have we reached the thirty fish?” asks Jazmin, as she pulls out the atarraya (fishing net) as she throws the net one more time over pond number 1.
“Yes, but let’s fish three more to fry and give our customers a taste of the quality of our tilapia,” says Pilar, as she moves the fish to a bucket full of ice.
With complete synchrony and ownership of the situation, both ladies work in the harvest of fish, a clear example of the teamwork and fellowship they have been building during this new venture that is Aquaponics.
The physical installation of this whole structure was built in the backyard of Doña Reyna’s house, who, while her companions work in the ponds, is in charge of cleaning the kitchen for the arrival of the fish. But that’s not all; colored balloons at the entrance of the house announce to the residents of the community that it is harvest day and the sale of tilapia by the pound is soon to start. This enterprise was developed by a group of women who have been benefited by the “Nourishing the Future” project, a corporate social responsibility initiative of Cargill and CARE that is executed in Nicaragua by Fabretto.
Jaszmin Roque, Pilar Maradiaga, and Reyna Carballo are three of the six women who are working together to develop this initiative. The search for a suitable piece of land, the construction of the whole system, the care and feeding of the tilapias, and the sowing of vegetables like mint, tomato, and cilantro, are only part of their tasks as entrepreneurs. “Here, we had to bring soil from elsewhere and then build everything. Each one of us has her own role,” explains Jazmina, while cleaning the fish.
“In the field, women always have fewer opportunities. So when we heard about the project, we signed up and now we are very committed. “
Aquaponics is the name of the system for tilapia farming, which will allow this group of women to generate additional income for them and their families. This initiative consists of a process of sustainable production of plants and fish, which combines the breeding and farming of tilapia with the cultivation of plants in water. The water, which contains fish secretion, circulates through the plants and is used as a nutrient for the plants. This same water then returns to the tanks of tilapias, but this time it has been oxygenated. Aquaponics is an ideal system for arid, dry territory with limited access to fresh water such as Chinandega.
This initiative not only aims to facilitate income generation but also to create and improve the skills of these women as a group and as individual entrepreneurs. “I am a producer of basic grains, but in the face of so much drought, I wanted to get into the tilapia venture and I have faith that we will do very well because we are working together,” Pilar explains with enthusiasm.
“Here in the field, women always have less opportunity to achieve our own little projects and to earn money. So when we were told of this project, we decided to unite and now we are very committed, “explains Jazmina, who was dedicated to performing beauty services at home in festive seasons to contribute a bit to the family economy. “I never thought I could learn so much about tilapia, like the type of food they need and the ideal PH of the water. Now, I’m surprised to see how far I’ve come,” she explains without stopping her work.
“We know we can. Together, we can “
In addition to the sale of tilapia, these entrepreneurs grow vegetables that have already started to sell in the market. “We sell them by the sack and by the bunch. We also use them in our home and we don’t have to buy them ourselves,” explains Doña Pilar.
Culturally, agriculture has been perceived as an exclusive trade for men; however, aquaculture is novel in the area and has allowed this group of women to realize that, together, they can go much further. “We have a lot of faith that we will succeed, even if the country is in crisis, we know we can. Together we can,” concludes Doña Jazmina