Stories of Change


Learning by example, leading by example in Nicaragua

Miriam Martinez regrets that she never got to go to school. Her parents couldn’t afford it when she was little.

Miriam was raised in Krin Krin, one of many small villages scattered along the Coco River, which makes up the border between Nicaragua and Honduras. When she was 20, she set off for the biggest town on the river, Waspam. She found work as a cook.

Two years after she arrived, she got married and returned to Krin Krin, where she had eight children.

“I had no experience in working the land,” Miriam says. “I started after I got married because my husband was lazy.” While she may have started out with no experience, Miriam has become a successful farmer. Her family has about 120 acres of land, about 75 acres of which are under cultivation with banana and plantain trees, fruit trees, tubers, beans and rice. The rest is still forested. Miriam also has chickens, pigs, cows and horses.

Miriam grows her family’s food, and she sells extra produce to put her children through school. Her children won’t have the same regrets that Miriam does. Two of her eldest are studying far away from home in the city, one of them in the field of veterinary science.

“A couple of years ago, our community leaders chose me to be an agricultural promoter to further my skills and help my neighbors,” Miriam says. Agricultural promoters like Miriam participate in classes and information sessions at local training centers, where they also use sample gardens to test different ways of cultivating plants. They learn and experiment with different techniques for growing crops, and then they can put what they learn into practice on their own land. Plus, each promoter commits to sharing what he or she has learned with at least two neighbors so that the whole community can begin to benefit. For her part, Miriam is happy to be an example for other farmers – both men and women – in her community.