The ten-year Agricultural Commercialization project in Nicaragua is now in its sixth year of operation. This program seeks to strengthen local production of marketable produce by training locals in effective farming techniques, by introducing new technology and training locals to use it, and by sharing resources and practical knowledge with those participating in the program. By strengthening local production our partners at Word & Deed Nicaragua hope to promote social and economic development in the targeted communities, and to promote biblical self-sufficiency.  The project has four basic components:
-    Develop sustainable agricultural production with a focus on commercialization
-    Develop small home businesses to generate income
-    Provide micro-loans to family businesses
-    Develop Christian leaders for service in their communities

Developments in 2017 include the use of a model farm in St. Clara, where free land was obtained for this purpose. This farm is being used to introduce locals to non-traditional crops, or to non-traditional ways of growing crops like cacao and coffee, etc. A Bible course is also being taught in St. Clara in conjunction with this initiative; so far it is going very well.

Last season, pineapple and vegetable harvests and sales were very good and it’s encouraging to see that recipients are continuing to grow pineapples in 2017, allowing them to grow and build on their knowledge and experience with this crop. It’s not uncommon for recipients to succeed with a crop one year only to switch to a different crop the following year. Two farmers raised pigs in 2016; they had only average success with this, but want to continue working and learning in this area in 2017. It’s encouraging to see farmers who are beginning to think in terms of the long view instead of giving up when their efforts aren’t met with immediate success.

Each community has several farmers who are implementing what they have learned. There are many encouraging signs of development. Farmers are making technical changes to better care for their crops and taking initiative to apply what they have learned in terms of weeding and disease control (instead of waiting for the technician to tell them what to do). There is some discouragement because out of season rains have destroyed some crops and are disrupting some of the normal agricultural rhythms.

The Bible courses continue to run well and are well received. Attendees ask lots of questions, and our partners are convinced that the courses are a blessing to the people and that they will strengthen local families and churches in a way that will affect the community.

Thank the Lord for the many encouraging signs of growth and development that we can see. Please pray for our partners who are carrying out the work—that God will equip them with joy and strength for the slow and sometimes discouraging work of helping the local farmers to think beyond subsistence farming to long-term self-sufficiency and to implement what they are learning. Please pray that their efforts will be richly blessed!

                                                                                               Last year's pineapple crop.

                                                                                          Meeting with the local producers.

                                                                                      Gathering for one of the Bible courses.

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