On June 3rd through 5th of this year, Earth Links completed an SRI training for smallholder rice farmers in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. The project is a collaboration with 4 of our partners; Three Americas, ADDAC (Association for the Diversification and Development of Agricultural Community), SRI-Global and IICA (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture).

For those unfamiliar with SRI, (The System of Rice Intensification) it is a climate-smart and environmentally sound method of rice production practiced in over 50 countries. The system offers smallholder farmers a viable alternative to the low yields and deleterious effects of conventional rice growing methods. The techniques that are used help small farmers improve their yields while lowering costs and conserving water and soil resources. And, because the plants have stronger root systems, they are better able to withstand events associated with climate change such as floods, seasonal droughts and increased pest activity. (http://sri.cals.cornell.edu/

The training took place on a site selected by ADDAC. In attendance were 30 men and women farmers and 3 Agricultural Technicians (who may become trainers) that were introduced to SRI by a lead trainer from IICA, Didier Moreira. The training included instruction, then hands on planting of seeds in a grid pattern and training materials left with the participants. Follow-up visits will occur as needed by IICA staff in Nicaragua.

In 2014, Earth Links and SRI-Global partnered to improve communication among interested parties in the LAC (Latin America Caribbean) region and to send technical materials in Spanish. The results were positive and the venture laid the foundation for the future relationship with IICA, providing, among many other agricultural resources in Latin America, a platform for a regional Latin American network for the sharing of SRI information.

We at IICA are appreciative of the opportunity to support this effort and look forward to further collaboration. It was a great start to what we are sure will be a fruitful and impactful partnership between all of us involved. “   Kelly Witkowski,   Agriculture and Climate Change Specialist IICA

We hope to do similar work on the volcanic island of Ometepe, where there is significant rice farming, but challenges with yield and pesticide use. We have a Three America partner of 20 years there, BOSIA, which grows high grade, organic coffee.

In Nicaragua there remains a very significant need for more direct training of smallholder farmers who would not otherwise be introduced to SRI techniques. With the ongoing partnerships that Earth Links has in Latin America, we hope to have other collaborative sustainable rice projects in the near future.