Mending Our Broken Earth: FEDICAMP in Nicaragua

Even as I write this post, we are waiting to see if the White House will reject the findings in a report on climate change prepared by scientists from 13 federal agencies. This news comes on top of the U.S. official withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change agreement over the weekend.

You might be surprised to learn that Nicaragua never signed the Paris agreement in the first place. Whereas the U.S. withdrew because Trump wanted what he calls a “better deal” for American businesses, Nicaragua did not sign as a protest for the weakness of the Paris agreement, insofar as it lacked an enforcement mechanism. Rather than put their name to a document that only makes greenhouse emission goals optional, Nicaragua chose to take a stand.

Nicaragua may be a small country, but it is doing more than its share to reduce carbon emissions. The World Bank has called Nicaragua a “renewable energy paradise,”in which 58% of energy needs are met by renewable sources. On the front lines of climate change, Nicaragua experiences drought more years than not and the consequences include reduced crop yields and internal and external migration.

Our partners at FEDICAMP, a collaborative of 21 agricultural cooperatives of small farmers in rural Nicaragua, maintain hope that they can respond to these challenges, because they must. The solutions that FEDICAMP engineers and farmers are developing now offer a great hope for Nicaragua, but these strategies will surely need to be duplicated elsewhere in the near future.

In a conversation last month, Miguel Ángel Marín Vásquez, the agricultural engineer who serves as FEDICAMP’s director, made an impassioned plea for support to the Quixote Center. In response to a question I had about how the Campesino a Campesino (Farmer to Farmer) methodology works, he explained that farmers and engineers work together to “combine ancestral knowledge and empirical research” and peers train one another in these techniques to pass them along. Even this very efficient and culturally-grounded method requires both infrastructure and staff support.

Their ambitious plan includes creation of reservoirs to store rainwater and irrigation systems to use water most effectively. They will also expand seed banks and use ditches and barriers to conserve existing soil as well build as a tree-planting initiative to prevent further erosion. By engaging a broad network of farmers in training, they will have the opportunity to test out different methods in a sort of living lab of climate change adaptation strategies. If they can dream this big, we must dream with them.

Here is what we are doing: From November 7-13, we will be visiting Nicaragua and plan to spend a day with our partners at FEDICAMP. If you would like to learn more about how these dynamic individuals resolutely confront the challenges of climate change, get in touch by sending us an email at info@quixote.org to join our delegation or learn more about the trip.

If you are moved by concern for climate change and would like to help to mend our broken planet, you could also make a gift to the Quixote Center, specifying that you want to support FEDICAMP.

1 Comment

  • Lesley Smith says:

    This sounds very promising – great that traditional farming methods are being maintained. I look forward to reading blog posts about your visit.

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