Nicaragua: Smallholder Farmers Working to Improve Efficiency and Stability

by World Food Programme | World Food Programme
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 05:05 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In Nicaragua, the World Food Programme (WFP) supports various activities with the aim of developing food security in vulnerable households. WFP’s initiatives in nutrition, education, and agriculture contribute to the strengthening of the government’s National Human Development Plan. Currently smallholder farmers produce 70% of the country’s staple grains. WFP purchases a portion of these grains to supply country programmes.

Some 70 Km outside Ocotal, in the department capital of Nueva Segovia, smallholder farmers in the town of Jalapa are implementing new production techniques to become more efficient and promote environmentally friendly production.


WFP has been collaborating with la Cooperativa de Servicios Multiples Campesinos Activos de Jalapa (CCAJ) since 2009 through WFP's Purchase for Progress (P4P) project. Since their establishment as coffee producers CCAJ has expanded into the production of maize and beans, both major staples and valuable sources of nutrients for Nicaraguans.

Smallholder farmers in the CCAJ and their partner organizations are changing their production techniques through new tools like the employment of minimal tillage farming. Through minimal tillage farming smallholders are able to cultivate the land with minimal disturbance to the soil, this form of farming

P4P Facts Nicaragua

15 smallholder organizations are participating in P4P projects in Nicaragua. Target number of members: 8,920 (34% women)  Nicaragua is 1 of 4 countries that have P4P pilot programmes in Latin America.  Main commodities: Maize, beans and rice Sales to WFP: 2,366 MT totalling US$ 930,410

decreases soil erosion and helps retain moisture for new crops. This technique utilized by P4P organizations in Jalapa has proven to be advantageous, allowing them to reduce production and labour costs, conserve land, reduce energy consumption, and minimize the use of direct and indirect agricultural inputs.

Boost the Local Economy, Boost Food Security

The continued practice of traditional farming methods coupled with inadequate agricultural inputs translates into low quality crops and high post-harvest losses.  In addition to the agricultural training workshops that increase capacity development, WFP has assisted P4P organizations in the implementation of more effective storage units—airtight bags that are referred to as "cocoons", to be used in addition to metal silos.  

Through various P4P initiatives, such as field school training, assisting smallholders with access to better markets, and improved production techniques, smallholder organizations are now yielding higher quality crops. Their production supplies them with enough to satisfy their daily food needs as well as provide a stable income from selling their crops on the local market. WFP is a major buyer of smallholder farmers' yields. To ensure sustainability and decrease dependency, WFP introduces smallholders to potential buyers by organizing trade fairs and presenting them directly to WFP suppliers, like INCOPA who manufactures WFP's fortified foods. 

Key Partnerships for P4P Nicaragua

WFP's Purchase for Progress initiatives in Nicaragua are facilitated through partnerships between WFP, the national government, NGOs, and with the financial support from private donors. WFP has P4P pilot projects in four municipalities in the department of Nueva Segovia the "corn belt" of Nicaragua.

View the photo gallery and see what organization members have to say about P4P in Nicaragua.