Melvin, his wife and young son are working with CRS to learn new ways to take care of their coffee fields and grow new crops to sell and to eat. Photo by Silverlight for CRSLearn more about CRS' work in Nicaragua
Loving God, help us to care for all that you have created.
Catholic social teaching focus:
Care for God’s Creation
Melvin Sánchez Ramírez makes his living as a coffee farmer in one of the poorest regions of Nicaragua. For him, his wife and his son, it has always been a challenge, but they’ve managed to get by. Then came coffee leaf rust. The fungus killed so many of Melvin’s plants, he had no coffee to sell. His family struggled to put food on the table.
Catholic Relief Services is helping farmers like Melvin learn how to protect their plants from leaf rust. We’re also teaching them to grow other crops, like plantains and sweet potatoes. Some farmers in the area are even learning to keep bees for honey and raise hens for eggs. Not only do these crops add nutritious variety to family meals, they bring vital diversity to plantings so the family isn’t relying on one crop for their livelihood.
With the money he earns by selling these new crops, Melvin is able to put food on his family’s table. And he invests some of that money in a CRS-supported savings group. Together, the group members are able to save their money and offer loans to help one another prepare for the future.
By planning ahead and working together, families like Melvin’s are making sure they have bountiful farms and better futures.
Facts to consider
- In 2007, more than 45 percent of the Nicaraguan population was living on less than $1 per day.
- The highest concentration of the Nicaraguan poor live in the coffee producing rural Central-North region, where 74 percent of the population is poor and where children are much more likely to be chronically malnourished.
- In Nicaragua, many farmers depend on coffee for more than 80 percent of their household income.
- CRS is working with 2,714 smallholder coffee farm families living in Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
- The CRS Fair Trade Network provides technical and financial assistance to help farmers improve farming, harvesting and processing techniques so they can meet the demands of the market.