April and Kevin in Kuna Yala, the northeast coast of Panamá

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Charla con Productor Pequeño

On 5 December, MIDA (Ministerio de Desarrollo Agropecuario, the Ministry of Agriculture Development) brought a local small farmer to the island to talk about some of the methods he has adopted to improve his cattle raising efforts. This was a great opportunity for the island's farmers to hear from a small farmer like themselves, who has dealt with many of the same problems they have encountered. He spoke about organic fertilizers, pasture improvements, compost, farm planning and record-keeping to ensure your efforts are worth the effort. He also brought some plants for the farmers to plant that will help their cattle receive enough nutrition during the dry season, and spoke about a chipper/shredder type machine he uses to chop it up for storage.

(Small-scale farmers from our community listening to a MIDA technica and a small-scale farmer from the mainland talk about little steps that they can take to improve their farm's productivity.)

Small-scale technology adoption, like this chipper/shredder idea, are useful and attainable steps that the small farmers in our community can adopt to improve their farms. But hearing about them from a Peace Corps Volunteer or an outreach agent of MIDA is not likely to have the same impact as hearing about them from a small farmer similar to them.

In addition to the talk for the farmers, MIDA also spoke to the mothers in the Red de Oportunidades, an program through the government to provide support and incentive like money and supplies to families in exchange for attendance at trainings and sending their children to school.

(The MIDA Tecnica addressing the mothers in the Red de Oportunidades)

Placing both meetings at the same time better utilizes the resources of MIDA, since they accomplish two events with just one trip to the island, and I believe increases the attendance at the charlas, since some people who would not otherwise have bothered to attend come with friends or family.

After the charla and meeting, the MIDA tecnica, the farmer and his son, and the guy who ran the Red de Oportunidades meeting all walked next door to our house to eat lunch before boating back to the mainland. We are lucky to have a tecnica from our local MIDA office who is enthusiastic about coming out to the island, giving charlas, and helping the local farmers.

(Relaxing before lunch at our house: the son of the small farmer, who also spoke about his involvement in the farm and some of the experimental methods they have adopted; his father; our MIDA tecnica; and the MIDA Red de Oportunidades representative)

She was also enthusiastic about our Crazy Creek seat and enjoyed it almost as much as the kids do when they come by to read books and do puzzles.

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