Beekeeping training in FondeAgro
ORGUT has supported the Nicaraguan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in implementing FondeAgro through its design and implementation phases since 2000. FondeAgro follows Nicaraguan development priorities and seeks to connect small and medium scale farmers to buyers and markets. It also covers agricultural extension, agricultural credit specifically focused on small farmers, regularisation of land titles and gives special attention to value addition of agricultural products and agribusiness. First phase successes include the incorporation of income generating activities into overall agricultural extension and the establishment of credit lines to existing micro-finance organisations for loans to small and medium sized producers. Improved small-holder productivity indicated an increased emphasis on the market sector during 2005. The programme supported product quality enhancement and market facilitation.
In marketing, FondeAgro has always promoted an active dialogue between government as regulator and facilitator and the private sector. Together with their counterparts, ORGUT advisors designed a marketing component that supports the value-added chain and developed an integrated approach to promotion of quality coffee within the institutional and policy framework of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Nicaragua. Small coffee farmers and producers of other products use FondeAgro extension advice financed in part by the farmers themselves, and receive legal advice on land tenure and registration as well as training in cooperative management. Farmers gained access to coffee quality laboratories and received training in the flavour profiles that coffee purchasers look for and how these occur in the growing and processing chain.
Another important aspect was the ability to access credit. Farmers often sell coffee to the first buyer offering cash and cannot wait for the coffee to be processed, graded and offered to the quality market as they have to pay debts accumulated since the last coffee harvest. FondeAgro has worked together with processors, exporters and micro-finance institutions to create access to adequate credit arrangements that are also financially sustainable for the lending institutions. The programme has also helped small farmers participate in the national quality competition, ‘Cup of Excellence’. This learning experience made farmers realise that they are internationally competitive.
In other sectors, FondeAgro works along the same lines as for coffee, providing government support to private sector initiatives that benefit smallholders. Notable examples are a fair trade certification, organic certification of medicinal plants, support to animal health campaigns and support to producers and the processing industry in terms of dairy hygiene standards and traceability required for export