The families on the slopes of the Telica volcano where Nuevas Esperanzas works have traditionally survived on income from the bean and corn harvests. However, these areas are very vulnerable to the threats of drought, hurricanes and volcanic gases and eruptions, all of which are part of life in Nicaragua. Over the last eight years Nuevas Esperanzas has been working with the farmers to promote crop diversification to find alternative sources of income. This included establishing model farms to trial alternative crops which have proved more resistant including pineapple and dragon fruit.
Dragon fruit has proved to be the most successful introduction to the crops grown in the hillside communities. This amazing bright pink fruit is not only delicious (especially in smoothies!) but is also resistant to very inhospitable growing conditions. Over the last few years farmers who decided to work with dragon fruit have seen their crops flourish. More families are now keen to develop their own family farms with dragon fruit in order to secure a new source of income.
It takes five years for the shoots first planted to develop to their full potential, at which point, farmers can expect a minimum of three harvests per year. With careful, timely application of fertilisers which promote growth, the first harvest can be increased. As well as offering up to five harvests a year, this means that the farmers have more fruit to sell in the market early in the harvest season when the prices are higher.
There are now 44 families growing dragon fruit across three of the hillside communities. Nuevas Esperanzas hopes to raise £5,000 / $6,000 in order to help five more families plant dragon fruit at the start of the rainy season. These funds will also enable us to provide fertilisers and technical support to the families now into their fourth year of growing dragon fruit.
Dragon fruit not only looks magical with its shape and colour but almost has magical properties. It will improve a family’s resistance, making them less vulnerable to the challenges of life on the slopes of the Telica volcano. It will offer an additional source of income and is also a more environmentally friendly crop.
Please help us enable more families to benefit from this amazing crop.
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Posted by Anna Longley
Anna is the newest volunteer for Nuevas Esperanzas. In her first blog entry she reflects on Easter in Nicaragua and talks about Nuevas Esperanzas' campaign, Dragon Fruit for Development.
Nuevas Esperanzas was founded on the 1st November 2005, and the office where they are based was part of the first house I lived in. I was also born in 2005, and so I always say that I share my birth year with Nuevas Esperanzas. Given how close I was to the office for 12 years, I grew up surrounded by the NE team and their work. Of course, I did not always know what the team were doing (a younger version of me did not understand how to identify arsenic in water or what they were doing with those yellow beekeeping suits!), but I think I always loved the idea that I was surrounded by a wonderful group of people who were doing so much to help the families who live on the slopes of the Telica volcano.
We are a small organisation based in León, Nicaragua which promotes sustainable development in rural communities. Our local team of mostly Nicaraguan staff includes experienced professionals who cover a range of disciplines including civil engineering, logistics, hydrogeology, environmental science, agroecology, education, pastoral ministry, IT and non-profit management.