Tag Archive: humid tropics

Nov 02

La Esperancita Dies Last

I heard it 1980 at the Brussels 3rd IFOAM Scientific Conference: “The Maintenance of Soil Fertility”, and now, 32 years later at the Rapunzel-IFOAM One World Award, we saw our beloved Profesora Ana Primavesi, who’s whole life was on that topic, she being one of the great teachers and investigators in soil fertility. All social, cultural, philosophic, human dimensions of organic agriculture are at the end about this: fertile soils for everybody and everywhere and for a very very long time.

1982. I wanted to bring different dreams together: working in the field of organic agriculture and doing it in a revolutionary country: Nicaragua! But there was no “bioland” at the time, so Elba Rivera and I had to found it — and so we did!

1985. La Esperanzita became member of IFOAM, our campesino school of eco-agriculture in the humid tropics. Visitors from abroad questioned our work, asking if it was justified to “go bio” for European customers, when the Nicaraguan people was hungry. But we explained that European meals were way down on our priority list. Our aim was to rescue and improve soil fertility in a region that had been a rainforest only 15 years before, and where the degradation of soils had already begun. We discovered soon that ecological agro-forestry is the answer to the forest vocation of humid tropics.

1998. The farmers organized their own association – Sano y Salvo – Safe and Sound, which became member of IFOAM.

And we are proud to be with IFOAM in its 40th year. We are part of the biggest worldwide democratic member organization (after UN, maybe…)!

But there is a sad side, too: Nicaragua has now about 7.000 organic farmers, and not 400.000! It has 2 members of IFOAM, and not 200. The economy lives on gold export, on palm oil export, on work force export, on jungle trees export and of cattle. It doesn’t live on ecological agro-forestry, or on all the immense possibilities connected to it. Forests are becoming less and less each year, water resources are contaminated, many fall dry for long periods, and the climate change starts to be felt. Agro-chemical imports go up. GMOs enter uncontrolled.

Has it been our deficiency? IFOAM’s? Or is it unavoidable? Even the revolution died and doesn’t act as it should. Rio+20 did not leave a visible impact in peoples’ minds or plans. Market and business make the rule. But, of course, la esperancita dies last …

Gerd Schnepel

Sano y Salvo – Safe and Sound, Primera Asociación Campesina de Cultura y Producción Ecológicas en la Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur, Nicaragua