By Amanda Cooper
This is a guest post written by Colleen Bramhall. Colleen works in our Corporate Social Responsibility Department, supporting our Coffee Community Outreach programs.
You know that feeling of satisfaction you get when you introduce two of your amazing friends that have a common interest… that moment when you step back and watch as they hit it off and engage in a meaningful, intelligent conversation that enriches them both?
We imagined this kind of engagement would happen if we brought together all of our incredible partners in Nicaragua that are working on different food security solutions targeting coffee farmers in our supply chain. A few weeks ago, it became a reality! In a highly participatory conference organized by the Community Agroecology Network (CAN), dozens of NGO project managers, coffee cooperative farm technicians, and other community and government leaders came together to discuss innovative strategies and approaches to addressing “the thin months” in coffee growing communities in Nicaragua.
We started in the field with a visit to a few farms near San Ramon that are part of the “Campesino a Campesino” (Farmer to Farmer) movement, which is a grassroots network of volunteers that provide sustainable agricultural advice to their neighbors. The visit was a low-risk, informal way to share ideas and start to build relationships. On the second day, each participant presented a poster to the group that described the strategies and tactics used in their food security project; for example, establishing household gardens, building grain drying facilities, distributing silos for seed storage, etc. We were surprised to
see that so many of the projects had similar elements, which fostered collaboration and knowledge sharing. On the final day, we invited government officials, advisors, and senior staff to join the dialogue to discuss how we could influence national policy.
The conference ended but the discussion continues. Attendees were interested in forming a cross-organizational network of professionals engaged in food security solutions that could share best practices on an ongoing basis. It will be exciting to see the collaborations that evolve from this network as we work towards our common goal of improving the lives of coffee farmers in Nicaragua.