COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Sept. 7, 2012) - The forces of nature have not been kind to the Central American country of Nicaragua in recent years. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and back-to-back tropical systems have taken a toll on many, but ironically, these acts of nature have also prepared the land to give back in more ways than one.
The rich and fertile soil in northwestern Nicaragua, in the mountainous region of Ocotal, is just right for producing one of the country’s most consumed crops – beans. Beans are an inexpensive source of protein and are a staple in the daily diet of many families. Last year, the Texas-based Greater Impact Foundation teamed up with Food For The Poor to educate bean famers on how to grow better crops. The farmers are also learning how to earn a living from the fruits of their labor.
“Our board of directors had expressed a desire to begin funding projects that centered on dignified job creation and a sustainable business model,” said Erica Trani, Executive Director of Greater Impact Foundation. “Since my background is in international development, more specifically grassroots economic development, I was able to contribute my insight to create the specifications of the projects we were most interested in funding as we moved forward.”
More than 800 Nicaraguan farmers are enrolled in the red bean farming program, which is a benefit to a community of nearly 3,500 residents. Under this project, farmers are learning new agricultural techniques, as well as marketing and management strategies. Many women also have been hired to work in the Las Lomas Bean Seed Processing Plant, where the harvested red beans are polished, separated and packaged. The beans are sold in Nicaragua, and to other Central American countries.
“Food For The Poor’s goal has always been to help families with their immediate needs, but more importantly to serve as a catalyst towards self-sustainability,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “Agricultural projects, such as this bean farming program in Nicaragua, are an excellent example of how providing farmers with the proper tools and knowledge are a blessing for all involved.” Trani recently traveled with Food For The Poor to see for herself the various agricultural projects in the communities of Ocotal and Somoto, which include a variety of fruits and vegetables.
“Although this was my first time visiting Nicaragua, I was immediately impacted by the genuine will, leadership qualities, and earnest expression of the farmers,” said Trani. “All players involved, including American Nicaraguan Foundation, Food For The Poor, and the farming communities have strongly coalesced around the central mission. Everyone is functioning as a team, ensuring that the project goes as well as it can.”
When it comes to addressing poverty, the Greater Impact Foundation realizes this is a long-term process, and has since committed to working with Food For The Poor for a second phase of agricultural projects to assist Nicaraguan farmers.
Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.
For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.