Grain Silos Make a Difference

This summer, I spent one month in Nicaragua as an intern with a rural workers association. During this time, I visited several rural communities in one of the northern regions of Nicaragua, called Madriz. During these visits, I learned of the “lucha”, or struggle, in these communities related to the drought stricken climate and lack of available markets for their harvests. I decided to raise money to provide grain silos to five communities in need, helping them break their cycle of poverty and hold onto their harvests until grain prices are at their annual peaks. Some of the donations will also go to the rural workers association for which I was an intern (see below), to contribute on a more broad scale to food security and sovereignty efforts throughout Nicaragua. Your donations will be tax deductible.

(Above) Myself (middle right) and representatives from the Cairo Community during one of our meetings. The vice president of the community cooperative described their struggles with little access to resources, “No podemos avanzar mucho”, “We cannot advance much”.

(Above) The Madriz region of Nicaragua, where the communities being assisted are mostly located.

The Deadline
The money must be raised by September 10th, 2017 so that the Silos can be built and delivered to the communities in time for this coming harvest season.

The Need for Silos
In Nicaragua, even though many of the small farming communities are growing food for their own consumption, and producing cash crops at a small scale, these cash crops, like coffee, grains, and cacao are still subject to commodity prices, which fluctuate based on the supply and demand in national and international markets. Silos allow harvests of grains like corn, sorghum, as well as beans to be stored and sold later, when markets are more profitable.

This provides the communities a long term income security, which will allow them better access to medicines, education, transportation, and to sustainably scale up their agriculture. Finally these communities will have a sliver of sovereignty – they can sell their cash crops for better prices, and their children can become educated. This is one step toward breaking the cycle of poverty.

If you are able to donate even just a few dollars to this cause, these communities will be incredibly grateful - the amount of money I am raising may not seem like alot, but in Nicaragua, it will go a long way. This money will directly improve the quality of life of around one hundred people involved with rural farming in the Madriz region.

Funding Breakdown
$700 ($140 grain per silo): Five 30 Quintale (3,000 lb Capacity) Grain Silos

$200: Gofundme and Fiscal Sponsorship Fees

$500:  General donation to the Nicaraguan rural workers association, the ATC (see "Affiliated Organizations" below). This money will go directly toward supporting the rights and livelihoods of campesinos and campesinas, or small farmers and farmworkers throughout the countryside of Nicaragua.

Additional funds raised, past the goal will be donated in support of UCANS and the ATC for food sovereignty efforts, addressing the most pressing needs of farmers and farmworkers in their network.

The donations recieved will be securely sent to UCANS (see "Affiliated Organizations" below). UCANS will order the silos to be constructed and delivered to the communities. If you have further questions about your donation, you may contact Matthew Bridges through this gofundme page.

The Communities
The communities being supported here have all formed their own farming cooperatives, and belong to a union of cooperatives based out of the Madriz region of Nicaragua. They are situated in a higher and dryer tropical region, where lack of water is one of the biggest challenges faced by farmers. Most people living in these communities don’t have access to electricity, and can only access cities by foot, horseback, and sometimes busses, which run on dirt roads. Primary income in the region comes from harvests of corn, sorghum, and black beans in a rotation.

(Above) President of the cooperative in the community of San Antonio standing in a field of beans. This cooperative is involved in participatory research to selectively breed drought and disease tolerant varieties of beans. “Aqui estamos Luchando” – “Here we are struggling”, he said in respect to the climate during our meeting.

Alongside their cash crops, these communities typically care for diverse food gardens and tropical orchards surrounding their homes. Each community emphasized how climate change has affected them. In the years 2013, 14, and 15, they experienced a wet season of only two months, compared to the usual four month wet season. This climate insecurity, in combination with a general lack of access to equitable markets, education, and electricity has led to great difficulties. Several young people from each community have already left their homes to work in countries such as the United States, Costa Rica, Argentina, and El Salvador.  Supporting these communities with grain silos can reduce the need for their young people to migrate to other countries.

(Above) Betulia, the president of the cooperative in the community of Cairo standing next to her home kitchen garden.
(Above) Community meeting with members of the cooperative in the community of Naranjo. One of the leaders said, “Antes, vivimos totalmente marginal”, or “We once lived totally marginal”. Life after the Sandinista revolution of 1980 has since improved as the political situation has become more supportive for rural peoples in Nicaragua

Your donations will be much appreciated by these communities and the Associacion de Trabajadores del Campo. Thank you for supporting rural communities and livelihoods in Central America!

Affiliated Organizations

The Associacion de Trabajadores Del Campo
The Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo, or Rural Workers Association, represents approximately 50,000 rural workers and small-scale producers in Nicaragua.  The ATC has several hundred labor unions (labor unions in Nicaragua have arisen under a vastly different context than those in the USA) and agricultural cooperatives throughout the country.  The organization coordinates agrarian sector employment training programs, political education and empowerment workshops, agricultural practicums, and advocacy on national policies that protect workers and food systems.  It has active rural women and rural youth movements.

These community visits were organized in collaboration with the ATC. To read more about the ATC, read their blog . To learn more about my time in Nicaragua, read my blog: Viviendo Mateo .

The communities I am raising money for, along with thirty other communities in the area, are affiliated with UCANS, or the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Nueva Segovia. UCANS is a sister organization to the ATC and works with similar objectives, however on a more regional scale.


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Matthew Torrey Bridges 
Concord, CA
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