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Martha Mautute is a 36 year old single woman from the town of Jalapa, Nueva Segovia. Martha has been an active member of the smallholder farmer’s organization “Nuevo Horizonte” (New Horizons) for the past 5 years. While speaking with her she adamantly expressed how “blessed” and happy she is because of the opportunity she has to now share new knowledge with other women of her community.
"I feel that I am capable of advising other women, to help and motivate them to reach their dreams", expresses Martha. She learned about cultivation and farming as a teenager from helping her father and brothers on their land. "That's the way I learned, I did what they did. Nobody ever invited me to participate in any trainings or workshops to talk to me about land cultivation".
"Because I did not have land, I started renting half an acre which I paid for with the money I made from the crops I cultivated and from breeding pigs. Even though it was tough, I was determined to make it." Year after year Martha was faced with plagues, diseases and many time lack of rainfall. She was also her worst enemy by not knowing when to harvest her maize, making the crop more susceptible to pests.
"Nuevo Horizonte" Changed Her Life
"Nuevo Horizonte" is a part of WFP's "Purchase for Progress" (P4P) initiatives in Nicaragua. P4P programmes assist "Nuevo Horizonte" and other agricultural cooperatives with grain production in Nueva Segovia, Jinotega, Matagalpa and Estelí. This is done through various actions that are aimed at improving the quality of production and access to better markets and also improving food and nutrition security at home.
When Martha joined "Nuevo Horizonte" her life began to change. In 2009 Martha found herself with no money to buy her necessary agricultural inputs. With the help of her father, Marcos Roberto Matute, Martha took the first steps to join "Nuevo Horizonte". With the financial assistance offered through this P4P cooperative, Martha and others like her were able to receive credit to begin sowing.
"I have participated in three field schools, where I acquired useful information about the production of mazie and beans and the household economy. Now I know how to identify diseases and pests. And I know what chemicals and organic products to use to eliminate them", affirms Martha. Other techniques such as the analysis of the agro ecosystem, planting density and soil analysis allows for improved yields and quality of production. From her sales in 2011 Martha was able to pay off half of her 2 acres of land in Jalapa. The success from the following harvest allowed her to repay the debt in its entirety. Finally she has become an official land owner!
She Doubled Her Production
In 2011, Martha was able to cultivate 50 quintals of mazie per acre, her efforts and dedication were awarded in 2013 when she doubled her productivity and was able to cultivate 120 quintals per acre. Her income also increased allowing her to purchase six oxen that she now rents to other farmers in her community. "It is a way of making money" states this firmly spoken decided, petite, brunette woman.
Martha bought another half-acre of land and acquired more working tools through the cooperative and P4P; she has seriously considered the opportunity presented to the farmers to stop selling their crops to intermediaries at lower then market prices. She has begun to participate in the Commercialization of the Cooperative Committee of the "Nuevo Horizonte". Who recently signed contracts with the Nicaraguans Company of Basic Foods (NCBF). Now Martha is informed each day about the selling price of crops that she produces at a local and national level, allowing her to be as well informed as possible and look for the best buyers.
"I am a woman with understanding and experience. I am respected and recognized in my community and in my cooperative. The members of the committee of my cooperative consult with me and value my opinion. Now I have a voice and a vote", she states. That is the way my conversation with Martha Matute ended, a Nicaraguan women, an example of self-worth and strength.
Martha is the Secretary of the Supervisory Credit Board and member of the Gender Committee of the Cooperative "Nuevo Horizonte". She actively Participated in the Diploma Progarmme "Leadership and Entrepreneurship" organized by P4P. She was a major participant and motivating force behind the construction of the Gender Policy to promote the participation of women in her organization.
One of the greatest achievements for Martha is to work with women in her community and empower them. Thus far 25 women have joined her cooperative this year.