Dear Ramiro and friends at Sammamish Rotary Club,
Sadly, the political situation continues to be complicated and volatile and does not seem to have a short-term solution. To date, more than 309 persons have been killed, 215,000 have lost their jobs, and experts predict that 130,000 more Nicaraguans will move back to poverty before the end of the year. Tragic statistics for a country that has suffered so much and for so long.
I tried to visit Nicaragua a couple weeks ago – the tensions escalated the day before my attempt and I was unable to enter the country. Our staff continues to do their best to provide continuity to our programs and support the families in each village, but we have been forced to reduce the work hours to assure that all employees can safely be back at home by 4 pm and avoid the heightened risks found on the streets at night.
At the villages, the main concerns are related to completing a successful crop cycle; families are aware that credit services are not being offered by banks or microfinance institutions and wonder if Agros will continue to support their production. We certainly expect to keep doing so and we are also conscious of the fact that the overall economy in the country is deteriorating. We are committed to their wellbeing and the best possible outcome in the midst of the ongoing circumstances.
What are the most urgent needs? It is a not a simple answer, mainly because we don’t know how long this situation will last. Therefore, we must be prudent about how we respond to the crisis and avoid starting something that we will not be able to sustain. Our programs team conducted a food security assessment and a crop sales forecast to design a crisis intervention approach that will allow Agros to provide support during this time.
With this in mind, we have designed 3 key intervention strategies. We believe that these actions will increase family’s resilience during this time of crisis. Below you will find a brief description of each.
Finalize the current harvest cycle: All families have at least one or two crops under cultivation at this moment, the rains started in May, and all crops have been planted. The need for inputs, funds for labor and harvest will be needed shortly. Inputs, in particular, have increased their price due to the costs of transportation. We estimate that $24,570 are required to complete the current harvest cycle for 138 families who have planted 108 acres of basic grains.
Increase food reserves: Families must prepare for months of increased food prices and potential food shortages. Backyard gardens are a safe and effective way for providing diverse and nutritious food alternatives. The estimated cost for a backyard garden is $350 per family. Based on our assessment, 60 families on various villages are in high risk of being food insecure in the upcoming months. Total cost: $21,000.
Diversify income with animal husbandry: Most families have become very skilled in coffee production, but prices have been meager. Small animal husbandry production can help the families ride out the current crisis and make some extra money, particularly when processed at the village. To date, 28 families are interested in pig and chicken production to reduce their dependency on coffee and have a way to have more recurrent income. The average cost per family for a small livestock production is $450. Total costs: $12,600
There are many other needs such as preventative health and medicines. The government, however, has control of the supply of medicines, and we can only supply a limited amount to the helath volunteers or brigadistas in the form of health kits. Total costs: $2000
The measures described above are being implemented across all villages. Therefore, recognizing your amazing generosity over the years, we ask you to consider a $10,000 unrestricted gift to Agros to help cover some of the costs associated with these measures and to help us respond flexibly in this time of crisis
Once again thank you for your continuous support, for caring for Agros families and caring for our ministry. Please continue to pray for peace and democracy in a country of good people who dream and fight for a better future.
Alberto Solano President & Executive Director Agros International