- Income increased by 68%.
- The search for income diversification and an environmentally friendly crop motivated this family to plant cocoa.
Hermes Meza Rivera and his wife Maria Luisa Salgado live in the community Flor de Caña, in Plan de Grama-Wiwili Jinotega, Nicaragua with their 5 children. They are the owners of the farm El Porvenir and have four manzanas of cocoa established under agroforestry systems: two in production and two in development.
Although the family started in the world of coffee, in 2008 they decided to diversify their farm and plant cocoa as a new income source and as a way to protect themselves from the variability of coffee prices.
At first Hermes found it advantageous to require less hand labor to harvest cocoa. However, when his plantations became infected with Monillia and Mazorca Negra, the lack of know-how on disease management impacted his productivity. He then realized that he needed assistance to deal with this problem.
In 2021, the Flores del Campo R.L. Cooperative joined the MOCCA project, where Hermes and 86 other producers, members of the cooperative, found the technical support they needed through a training process for the management of the cocoa crop.
Some of the training topics are: Cocoa Soil Fertility Management, Cocoa Pruning and Companion Tree Management, Integrated Cocoa Pest Management, Cocoa Floor Management, Cadmium, Cocoa Harvesting, Fermentation and Drying, and Cocoa Grafting.
MOCCA is a 7-year initiative funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Food for Progress Program, which seeks to improve agricultural productivity and expand trade in agricultural products. The MOCCA project is being executed by a consortium led by TechnoServe. Lutheran World Relief leads the cocoa activities.
Income increased by 68% thanks to higher productivity levels
MOCCA in Nicaragua works with 14 producer organizations nationwide in the Cocoa Value Chain, serving about 3,000 small cocoa producers. The regions where they work are Jinotega, Matagalpa, Región Autónoma de la Costa Caribe Norte, Río San Juan, Región Autónoma de la Costa Caribe, and Nueva Segovia.
“Putting into practice everything we learned in the trainings in the cocoa plot, my production has improved by 35%, as we were able to control the diseases that used to affect us. In 2020 we harvested 65 quintals of cocoa baba with an income of USD $ 2282, while in 2022 we managed to harvest 95 quintals baba increasing our income of USD $ 3335”, said a very happy producer.
Thanks to their improved earnings, the family was able to invest in the construction of a grain storage room and improve their kitchen. “We also bought a television, but the most important thing is that we are helping our children to continue their education” said Luisa.
Hermes and his family don’t keep what they have learned just for themselves. He visits farmers in his community, teaching them, for example, how to prune the cocoa trees to let in enough light and air, which allows the plantation to be aerated and control humidity, reduce the risk of disease and maintain adequate shade for productivity. “I also teach them how to graft, and many producers come to the farm, where I explain the advantages of proper management and the good results I have had,” he added.
“Cocoa cultivation benefits us in terms of the environment, since it serves as reforestation and diversification. Cacao is a plant that provides income all year round for the family, and I like this crop because it is a way of working with organic agriculture, something that has always interested me” said Hermes Meza