Rural youth are finding meaningful work close to home in Nicaragua

October 1, 2019

Youth cooperatives give young farmers the support they need to flourish. And seeds give them hope for the future.

Mario Hernández Vanegas, president of the youth co-op, Cooperativa Dios es Amor. (Photo: Blanca Iris Castro Briones)

It may seem like basic seed saving training but for young participants, the training they participate in through SeedChange is a school of life. It’s seed work. It requires discipline, problem-solving skills and teamwork. Usually in the form of cooperatives, this teamwork is a cornerstone of our Seeds of Survival approach in Central America. It gives youth peer support and a group of dedicated, like-minded young people with whom to work and sometimes even start small businesses.

“It’s important to be organized. We are listened to more. We feel proud,” says Mario Hernández Vanegas, president of his youth co-op, Cooperativa Dios es Amor, in Madriz department, an extremely dry area of Nicaragua.

And there’s lots to be proud of. Alumni of these co-ops have become agronomists and leaders in the cooperative movement. Others now run their own family farm.

Through their new youth cooperative, Geovania, Osiris, Deybin and Bayardo from La Cofradía, Nicaragua, are diversifying their family farms with garden vegetables like the Pipián squash seen here. (Photo: Blanca Iris Castro Briones)

When Mario received a small sample of beans from our local partner, FECODESA, he enthusiastically planted them on his family’s farm. He tended to them as they grew and observed which ones did the best. He chose the bean plants that performed well in the dry, sometimes unpredictable climate where his family lives.

Now he is saving the seeds from his favourite plants and has plans to grow even more beans next season.

But that’s not all his co-op has planned.

“Now we want to keep going,” continues Mario, already looking to the future. “We want to create a seed bank, a really good one!”

It starts with seeds, but your support grows fulfilling futures. Best of all, for these young participants and for their rural communities, these futures take root right at home, close to their families.