In 1995 we worked with a local cooperative to plant, harvest, and market organic sesame from a single field. Today we work with approximately 3,000 farmers all across the western part of Nicaragua!
Rural Nicaragua is extremely impoverished, and small farmers get little for their crops. They need cash to buy medicines, shoes, and clothes. Helping them grow organically makes their farms more productive for future generations. Helping them work together and adding value to their crops mean they get a better price and can begin to move out of poverty.
We have helped farmers receive organic certification for sesame, peanuts, honey, cashews, black beans, cacao, cotton, and coffee.
We started a farmer’s cooperative, COPROEXNIC, so that they could receive better prices selling as a larger group. COPROEXNIC teaches its growers about sustainability. Farmers who work with this project rotate their crops. They also do not cut down forests to create open fields or take land out of local food production to grow export crops.
We work to connect the farmers with organic markets for their products, and we are fortunate to have buyers who care about the growers: Once Again Nut Butter (OANB), Nuts to You, Maggie’s Organics, and Their-Bucks Coffee. If you ever want to support businesses with a conscience, these are good ones with quality products.
Currently the CDCA and COPROEXNIC are concentrating on organic cotton, coffee, sesame, and peanuts. The organic cotton growers and the cotton gin operation have been certified as the first two steps in an organic fair trade clothing production chain that will one day go all the way from crop to customer.
The organic coffee is produced by a small cooperative of 43 families who live on top of a mountain and protect their land. Their coffee is grown under huge trees in a tropical dry forest.
COPROEXNIC is the largest exporter of sesame in Nicaragua – both organic and conventional. Over the many years we have worked with the farmers, processing and shipping have always been huge problems. We are looking for ways for the farmers to have more control over the essential processing of their crops, like the farmer-run cotton gin.
The Vida Fund loans capital to the farmer co-ops so that they can plant and harvest, and also makes bridge loans to COPROEXNIC for post-harvest collection of crops and processing. The co-op then repays the Vida Fund when its clients receive their product.