Programs SOPPEXCCA2021-10-15T10:54:55-04:00

SOPPEXCCA

Nicaragua

LOCATION:

Jinotega

PARTNER SINCE: 2011

FAMILIES: 520

STRATEGIES:

THE CHALLENGE

Small farms, low income from coffee, and little access to healthy food  have left SOPPEXCCA farming families to confront 3-4 months of food insecurity, every year. Climate change, hurricanes Eta and Iota, political strife, and the COVID-19 pandemic have amplified their vulnerability and slowed markets, transportation, and services. 

OUR APPROACH

In 2011, we began our first collaboration, working with SOPPEXCCA to develop locally-led strategies to reduce seasonal hunger, increase local food production, and create new economic opportunities — particularly for women and young people. Early strategies included cacao production, cultivating and storing beans and maize for family consumption and local sales, nutrition and food security education, organic composting, and improvements to farm soil and water health. 

In 2018, we started a new phase of work to bring fresh, locally grown organic food to farming families and the surrounding community of 130,000 people, The Mercadito Nutri-Hogar was launched — a women-led organic farmers market, with produce from their own farms. Women coffee farmers learned to grow organically, started home vegetable gardens, then acquired business skills to bolster their marketing, customer service, and new start up ventures. 

SOPPEXCCA wanted to go beyond its won membership to help the area’s residents access healthy food, so we worked with SOPPEXCCA to begin  a new school garden program in 2018 at 3 elementary schools, to teach the next generation about good nutrition and the benefits of growing organically.

PROGRESS

The organic market has grown from 20 women participants to nearly 40, who now manage the Mercadito Nutri-Hogar in Jinotega, as well as three new satellite markets in area communities. Market sales have helped these women increase their income by more than 13%, while enjoying significant savings on household food expenses. It’s the first time many have had their own source of income to save or invest, as coffee income is typically shared among the whole family.  And they’re using it to invest in their children’s education.

SOPPEXCCA also wanted to go beyond its own membership to help the larger community access healthy food, so in 2018, we added a school garden program at 3 area elementary schools, to teach the next generation about good nutrition and the benefits of growing organically.

WHAT WE’RE WORKING ON NOW

Thanks to funding from Grow Ahead and the Arbor Day Foundation, this year we’re developing agroforestry as a food security strategy with SOPPEXCCA. The co-op selected hardwood trees for shade and pollinator food, fruit trees for consumption and local sales, and plants for soil erosion control and water management in home gardens. The 203 farming families in this program are getting ongoing technical assistance and learning about how to use these additions to improve nutrition and food security. So far, SOPPEXCCA families have planted 2,400 hardwood trees, 3,000 fruit trees and tens of thousands of edible, melliferous, and soil-retention plants. 

This year, we’ve created a Community Promoter Certification program, to deliver professional skills training to 17 young adults — sons and daughters of co-op members. At the completion of this two-year program, participants will thoroughly versed in leadership skills, training and facilitation, data collection, and technical support for families.

We’re also developing a sister market for women in the Mercadito Nutri-Hogar program, in the town of Santa Rosa del Cua, managed by 5 women farmers who live in the community.

Our school garden program has grown, adding 10 more schools, and is now flourishing at 13 area schools, serving 2,600 students and their families.

Strategies

School Gardens

2020 saw a notable expansion of our school garden program.  In partnership with local implementing partner ASDENIC, an NGO based in Esteli, and SOPPEXCCA, we added 10 new schools to the program. We now have teaching gardens at 13 schools, where 2,624 students learn to grow, prepare, and eat healthy, fresh food.

Home Gardens

“I really value the program. It’s given me income I didn’t have before, and now I can buy things I can’t grow, like rice, oil, and meat,” SOPPEXCCA member Juliana Vázquez explains. She’s also been able to purchase furniture and a small oven for her home with the income she’s earned from the market.

Community Promoters

Anabel Chavarría (left), a community promoter, distributes tools to Angelita, a SOPPEXCCA coffee farmer, working in her home garden.

Seeding Saving

With our implementing partner ASDENIC, young participants prepare their seedbeds for crops such as corn, chiltoma, and tomato. They extract seeds from the fruits and place them in separate areas for drying.

Agroforestry

3,500 Valencia orange and Taiti lemon plants have been planted on  SOPPEXCCA farms so far this year. These fruits are high in demand at local markets, and will deliver more income to SOPPEXCCA’s coffee-farming families.

Home Gardens

Mayling Méndez (left) is the daughter of Rosibel Gonzalez, a SOPPEXCCA coffee farmer, community promoter, and participant in our women’s organic farmers market. Rosibel has transformed her coffee plot into a diversified food hub, now growing organic produce and coffee to support her family.

Educational Workshops

Rosibel González shows off her plate of healthy food from her garden — cabbage and tomato salad — along with rice, beans, and bananas. SOPPEXCCA women farmers are building thriving new businesses selling produce from their organic gardens at the Mercadito Nutri- Hogar, the women’s farmers market – while learning new business skills and feeding their families during a difficult year. 

Farmers Market

Lilliam Arauz is the food security coordinator at SOPPEXCCA. When she started developing a new women’s organic farmers market, one of her biggest challenges was gaining the trust of women farmers. Lilliam steadily built that trust through her expert guidance and unwavering support. Now, dozens of women depend on the market for  income, which has increased from year to year – even in a pandemic. 

Water Systems

SOPPEXCCA installs new water filter systems for schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

SOPPEXCCA Team

Food Security Coordinator

The Coordinator is a co-op staff member, who develops and oversees the program, and meets regularly with Food 4 Farmers to assess progress and problems, while ensuring program participants have what they need to succeed.

Lilliam Arauz

Community Promoters

Promoters report to the Coordinator, and work directly with participating families to provide ongoing support. They also collect data from each family monthly, so the co-op can track progress and address problems early on.

Anabel del Carmen Chavarría

Mayling Junieth Méndez

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