The Oasis Project

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THE OASIS PROJECT – DROUGHT MITIGATION NOW

Update 09/04/2014: The first four systems are now under construction! Give a gift today to help us reach our goal and build all of the oases before the 2015 planting season.

Summary in Brief

The Quixote Center is working with the Federation of Campesinos (FEDICAMP) to mitigate effects of the changing climate on Nicaragua’s smallholder farmers by constructing irrigation systems. Drought has destroyed the first planting season of 2014, resulting in rising food prices and a shortage of good seed for the second cycle of planting. We have planned a series of drip irrigation systems for families farming land near reliable water sources in order to increase food and seed production for distribution to smallholder farmers throughout the north. We depend entirely on individual gifts to make this program a reality. Join the Oasis Project by making a gift today.

A Two Cycle Planting Season

Smallholder (subsistence) farmers in Northern Nicaragua depend on predictable climate patterns to grow food. Normally, the beginning of May marks the start of the first rainy cycle. Farmers plant just before the rain to maximize the growth potential of their crops. From the middle of July to the middle of August is a mini dry season, and the arrival of the August rains signals the beginning of the second growing cycle. Subsistence farmers utilize these two growing cycles to feed their families. In good years, there is extra produce to sell. This is not one of those good years.

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The Problems

This year, the rain didn’t come in May or June. The drought has resulted in a failed first cycle as the planted seeds have died waiting for water. Food prices in Nicaragua have increased drastically, and the supply of basic grains is not sufficient for subsistence farmers. The El Nino phenomenon is expected to affect the second growing cycle as well, and could result in another failed growing season. That failure will have disastrous implications for poor rural families dependent on the food they grow. Smallholder farmers also harvest seeds at the end of each growing cycle. These seeds fuel the next planting season, and a failed season means that poor families must purchase what seeds they can for the next cycle. Often, families cannot purchase enough seeds, resulting in smaller crop yields.

Oases: Guarding Against Drought

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The Quixote Center is partnering with FEDICAMP to install a series of irrigation systems for small farmers who already participate in agricultural training and promotion projects. The families who participate in FEDICAMP’s programs are selected because of their commitment to the cause of sustainable agriculture and their extensive knowledge of local farming techniques. The simple drip irrigation systems will create a series of “oases” that can be used for intensive cultivation during periods of drought. The sites we have selected for irrigation are those with easy access to a year-round water source and each would provide a family farm with consistent water for crops.

This supply of water would ensure a healthy harvest of food, and perhaps more importantly, a fresh supply of healthy seed for distribution to other subsistence farmers. Each system will cover an area of approximately 5000 square meters and will cost $700 for installation, training, and oversight by FEDICAMP agronomists. We have selected 17 families from the communities of the north to participate in the pilot program. In the future, we hope to build on these systems to supply consistent water to additional families in each community. This project will be entirely funded by Quixote Center donors, so we need your help! We have pre-selected seventeen families to participate in the pilot program. The total cost for the seventeen systems will be $11,900. Join the Oasis Project and make a gift today to help us ensure that smallholder farmers have access to the resources they need to grow food.