La Semilla Ministries

Learning by Demonstration

November 9, 2017

  • Bringing in the plots for harvest
It would seem that if we offered a technical program to a group of farmers that had very little access to new technologies, ideas, and opportunities, they would jump at the chance to be involved, right!?

As we’ve learned over many years and growing cycles here in Nicaragua, this is not always the case.  Traditions and culture, no matter where we live, are huge influences on our willingness to consider new ideas. Adaptation (sometimes TRUST is synonomous) continues to be one of our biggest hurdles in agriculture development in Carazo.

Probably no matter where you are, or what business you’re in, actual functioning examples – demonstrations –  are one of the best tools for sharing ideas and realizing uptake of those ideas. Recognizing this, La Semilla Ministries maintains various test/demonstration plots as a manner to share with our grower base. We’re blessed with some talented young agronmists who have eagerly taken up the challenge of this style of teaching. 

In this current growing season, we are maintaining plots in the two main crops we focus on – sorghum and beans. In sorghum we have 4 varieties planted to evaluate their varietal characteristics, plus several plots dedicated to nutrition evaluation. On the bean side we’re focused on plant nutrition and weed control. Plots will be followed through to harvest so that harvest data can be analyzed and become part of a growing data base of statistics. But a stronger motive yet is the ability to demonstrate, in field, some of the technologies that we are promoting to our producers.  On certain days throughout the growing season we provide transportation to the plot sites, showing and teaching from what we are experimenting with. Great discussion happens between producers as they are relaxed, walking around the plots, enjoying a day in a different setting. For us as a ministry this has been invaluable: we act as a platform to share ideas and experiences, plus we reinforce the technical teaching with examples – better than any printed material for many of our illiterate farmers.  It takes some coordination and resources from our point of view, but is very worthwhile.

Land for these plots is rented from various producers in different communities so that the work is very visible and we can reach the maximum number of producers with our research. The producers that we rent from provide not just the land, but also a helping hand maintain the sites in a presentable state.  This season we are taking advantage of these “field days” to demonstrate some of the mechanization side of the ministry too – mechanical seeding  and pesticide application with a motorized backpack sprayer.