The project being is carried out in cooperation with La Fondation del Rio and La Asociación de Turismo Sostenible de Bartola. It aims to enhance agricultural productivity with a view to reducing the surface area of lands used for cultivation and livestock breeding. This should allow us to ensure a food supply and financial security for local farmers, as well as the preservation of virgin forests.
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Neighbours of the Indio Maiz reserve
The project is being developed in the south of Nicaragua, at the border with Costa Rica and Indio Maiz reserve, within the community of Bartola. The community consists of 26 families, or 190 inhabitants. They live in a buffer zone of Indio Maiz, the second largest natural reserve in the country, which is particularly threatened by deforestation.
The majority of Bartola’s inhabitants arrived there less than 20 years ago, during a wave of mass population displacement. Geographic isolation and poor transport links make access to markets difficult, thus forcing the peasants to focus their agricultural activities on cattle breeding, which is of low productivity in relation to the amount of land that it requires. This is compounded by the fact that any crops cultivated- especially food crops-offer low and unreliable yields. Some areas are facing a conflict of interest between cattle breeding and cultivation, which arise in relation to the use of the slash-and-burn technique.
Slash-and-burn is the main technique used to plough up and fertilize land in the area. It consists of clearing an area of forest and then setting it on fire. This technique is well adapted to the living conditions of the local population, since it requires little in the way of workforce or tools and renders the soil more fertile. The fallow period required if the system is to be sustainable is not, however, respected. This is largely because of the pressure which the demands of cattle-breeding place upon the land.
Solution: Increased productivity by maximising the potential of local trees
The project aims to establish an agricultural system that would respond to:
• The specificities of the local ecosystem (soil, climate, etc.)
• The local community’s situation in terms of isolation, the state of their infrastructure and the available workforce
• The particular needs of local farmers
• The urgent need to protect the Indio Maiz nature reserve and to restitute the surrounding landscape.
- 1-Developing an agroforestry system based upon the cultivation of Inga (sweet peas)
Agroforestry centred around the cultivation of Inga was developed over 30 years ago by Mike Hands, an agricultural botanist and specialist in tropical environments. He now works with the Inga Foundation in order to share his techniques and offers help to local farmers as they make the transition to what is currently one of the sole viable alternatives to the slash-and-burn practice. At the moment we are working closely with the Inga Foundation, with a view to introducing this practice into the Bartola community.
2_Making livestock breeding less extensive and more productive
The idea is to create hedgerows and protein banks, along with replanting trees which, instead of competing with the needs of pastureland, will help to fertilise it. The trees will, therefore, act not only as an excellent source of nutrition, but they will also provide shade, render the soil more fertile, reduce the effects of soil erosion and help the landscape to recover.
We hope that this project will be able to set up a form of agriculture which is both sustainable and economically viable for the local community, whilst at the same time protecting the Indio Maiz reserve. We are therefore hoping to see a significant improvement in the productive potential of the land, which would allow us to reduce the amount of land exploited for agricultural purposes. The freed-up land could, then, be reforested.
This could potentially mean:
• A reduction of 20-50% in the surface area of land used for agriculture
• The reforestation of plots of land no longer in use
• An increase in the productivity of the land of at least 30% (in equal measures for crops and cattle breeding)
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Envol Vert thanks all the donors for this project :
Céline Pozzobon, JL Husse, Marie-Hélène Capin, Cornélius De Haan, Vincent Limagne, Françoise Campistrous, Nicole Waguet, Brice Van Haaren, Laurence Desmaretz, Morgane Le Bastard, Aline Ternay, Auriane Jones, Jérôme Mugica, Edith Richard, Vincent Gardelle, Aymeric Masson, Martin N., Florian Duval.
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