The Youth Leadership and Education for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Project (Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty for short), is a collaboration with our partner organizations the Union of Cooperatives San Ramón (UCA San Ramón) in Nicaragua, and Vinculación y Desarrollo Agroecológico en el Café (VIDA AC) in the Central Highlands of Veracruz, México. The project, which was launched in 2011, aims to alleviate food insecurity and seasonal hunger, and promote food sovereign households and communities among 401 coffee farming families (229 direct beneficiary families plus 172 indirect beneficiary families), and build sustainable local food systems in 12 coffee-growing communities in Nicaragua and México through capacity-building and the empowerment of local youth leaders in these communities as agents for food systems change.
The impacts of this project are both significant and revealing of the structural pressures that families are facing and what they need to continue to work to overcome those pressures. Dietary diversity has increased in both Veracruz and San Ramon as a result of production diversification, nutrition education, and income diversification strategies. Household income has risen and 89 women and 41 youth have diversified income from strategies promoted by the project. Months of adequate provisioning in San Ramon have shown a drastic improvement at 9.7 months in 2015 from 7.37 months in 2011. In Veracruz, the months of adequate provisioning has essentially held steady at 10 months since 2011, with some negative fluctuation in 2014 when the la roya crisis emerged in the region. In both San Ramon and Veracruz, communities and cooperatives have strengthened their local organizations to manage food security strategies in the long run.
Project Participant Carolina Díaz García
Cooperativa Denis Gutiérrez Cardoza, La Pita, San Ramón, Nicaragua
First, the work we do in this project helps us have better nutrition. Second, we have extra cash because we sell part of what we produce. For example, the chicken we raise is not only for our own consumption but also for selling. This is also the meaning of food security because with the money we get from selling chicken we can buy rice, oil, soap, and other things we need for our families. I feel like I have learned a lot and have love for what I do. I’d like to go on farming and have food at home. This is something I learned, a life experience, that the gardens, the farm, the vegetables, the fruits are so important for life. Even though the project has ended, I will continue farm