Grow the Soil
By Michael Richardson Most small-scale growers in Nicaragua are not producing nutritionally balanced food to provide for their own basic nutritional needs. The primary challenges are limited access to good land, viable seeds, sufficient water, durable tools, and money.
Weathered tropic soils in Nicaragua are low in Soil Organic Matter and deplete of minerals from years of unsustainable land-use practices. Small-scale growers and the organizations that work with them lack the requisite knowledge and experience to develop and maintain soil fertility in tropic soils.
NGO-sponsored projects simply till infertile soil, add water and plant imported seeds. Inexperienced growers - lacking knowledge about the biology, physiology and chemistry of tropical soils - struggle to obtain marginal yields and further deplete their soils.
In response, the Centro de Capacitación, Investigación y Demostración del Método Biointensivo de Cultivo en Nicaragua (CCID BioNica) has been providing comprehensive knowledge and skills on how to develop and maintain soil fertility so the soil is capable of growing crops without synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
CCID BioNica is not a project nor does it have projects, rather its mission is to provide training in best practices in sustainable agriculture, with an emphasis on biointensive agroecology. Participants include: 1) agricultural technicians with organizations that have small-scale agricultural projects; 2) small-scale growers; and, 3) university faculty and students in agronomy.
Biointensive agroecology methods- when practiced correctly - build sustainable soil fertility, reduce agricultural water consumption, increase crop yields, and offset the causes and effects of climate change by sequestering large quantities of carbon in the soil.
One-by-one, small-scale growers in Nicaragua are beginning to achieve not only food security but the possibility of food sovereignty with the right to define their own food systems and produce, distribute and consume nutritionally balanced food through ecologically sound and sustainable methods
In addition to its training programs, CCID BioNica is organizing efforts to diversify the supply of seeds in Nicaragua and to rebuild the soil testing laboratory at the national agrarian university.
For more info, visit their website: BioNica.org