Mitigating Climate Change
The Quixote Center has been working with the Federation of Campesinos (FEDICAMP) to mitigate effects of the changing climate on Nicaragua’s smallholder farmers, on various projects for at least a decade. Nicaragua is extremely susceptible to the negative effects of climate change, and is plagued with almost annual droughts, resulting in rising food prices and a shortage of good seed for 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.
A Two-Cycle Planting Season
Smallholder (subsistence) farmers in Northern Nicaragua depend on predictable climate patterns to grow food. Traditionally, farmers plant just before the rain in May to maximize the growth potential of their first crops. From the middle of July to the middle of August there 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. There has not been a ‘good year’ since 2013.
Drought during the rainy seasons has resulted in a failed first cycle crops, 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. Crop failure has disastrous implications for poor rural families dependent on the food they grow. Smallholder farmers also harvest seeds at the end of each growing cycle used to fuel the next planting season. A failed season means that poor families must purchase any seeds they can for the next crop cycle. Often, families cannot purchase enough seeds, resulting in smaller crop yields and economic opportunity.