La Semilla Ministries

Juan Manuel Altamirano

June 4, 2020

Although much of the information you’ll find on our website is factual, scientific, and related to technical agriculture; do not misunderstand – WE ARE ALL ABOUT PEOPLE!  We believe that God has created each person on this earth by design and for purpose, and it is our desire to help people realize that incredible worth. Since we are dedicated to a long-term strategy for development, we are excited when some the rural folks we work with understand and adopt practices which impact their lives.  Today we want to focus on the one of these successes.

Juan Altamirano is a success by our evaluation of an associated agriculture producer with La Semilla. Juan lives just outside of Diriamba, Carazo in a neighborhood called Berlin. He is a 50 year-old father, husband, and farmer. Although he doesn’t own any agriculture land of his own, he does own his own home and the small plot of land that it is located on. He rents the same land each year in a large clearing of about 30 acres where a dozen farmers also rent land to cultivate their crops. Although he doesn’t have the security of owning land or having a long-term lease agreement, he does enjoy a steady and stable relationship with the landowner from whom he rents 4.5 acres.

When Juan Altamirano was farming without the assistance of La Semilla and its technical agriculture programs, he was growing strictly red beans in each of the 2 growing seasons per year and achieving 500lbs/acre yields. In 2015 Juan joined up with La Semilla. Marcelo Morales is his assigned La Semilla agronomist, and under Marcelo’s careful guidance, he has increased his bean yields to an average of 1550lbs/acre. A three fold yield increase!

This is thanks to 3 important elements key to success:

  1. Modern technical agriculture addresses issues of seed quality (the right genetic traits for a specific geographic area, disease resistance, guaranteed germination rates, seed treatments to control fungus), plant nutrition, weed, insect and disease control. Also the programs address things such as soil health (rotation, tillage, organic material), planting depth and populations, and correct timings of the input products mentioned.
  2. Attitude! Juan wants to increase profitablity and realizes that actually DOING the steps outlined in point #1 require time, dedication and perseverance on his part as producer. The advice is offered, and Juan willingly listens and adjusts his techniques according to tips offered and his experience accumulated in the field. Well done Juan!
  3.  Juan recognizes the work of God in his life, prays for blessings, and gives thanks for the good balance of rains, sun, and technologies he enjoys each season as his crops progress and mature. God gives us climate, yes, but also technologies and science to combat pests and produce good results! Enjoyment of the resources and blessings that God surrounds us with!

The results?

Juan Altamirano is an innovator and is happy to learn about different aspects of production. He has been planting corn in rotation with his beans, aiding the yield of beans, improving soil health, and diversifying his income. He has been quick to volunteer land to the La Semilla team to operate investigative and demonstration plots within his seeded acreage. This allows him to learn first hand of the benefits of new practices constantly being researched by our team of agronomists.

Juan graduates from the financial training class.

Juan has taken advantage of financial training offered at La Semilla too, and has a better understanding of managing his finances. As a result, he understands the value of investments, particularly as they relate to his farm.  Since he understands investments and the power of credit, we have allowed Juan to take advantage of the La Semilla small loan program to purchase a motorized backpack sprayer (to uncrease efficiency, lower water volumes of applied products, and realize a small income from custom services offered to neighbors). Also this year he purchased a motorized STIHL weed trimmer to replace his machete for a lot of the land clearing necesary before planting.  Both of these purchases will lighten the manual work load and ultimately lead to increased profits from his small acreage.

A lightened workload means Juan Altamirano has had more time with his family and time to dedicate to his community. Juan is a visible leader, and because of his community position is an example and mentor to others on how they too can adopt new practices that will help them provide a more stable income for their families. The other farmers in the same clearing have noticed his crop results and now most of them too, have joined La Semilla and are learning to improve their yields. Juan volunteered to host a bible study in his home led by Nicolas Sequiera, one of La Semilla’s pastors, so that he could learn more about spiritual matters and share God’s Good News with more in his community. Juan has been able to afford supplies to expand and improve his home. Supplies were also purchased to begin work on a small church building for their community of Berlin.

Stories like Juan Altamirano’s motivate us in our work. Seeing his success helps drives the energy and innovation necessary to maintain the vision and mission that is La Semilla Ministries. Hopefully Juan’s story motivates you, too, to continue to support the work here in Nicaragua. We are so thankful for opportunities to be used by God to show His love in practical ways to the people of Nicaragua.

Juan sums it up like this:

“What great work La Semilla is doing with us who work the soil. Thank-you Lord, and secondly, a thank-you to all of them. (la semilla team) Lt’s keep moving forward! God bless you”.