COSECHA PARTNERS: PIONEERING REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE IN NICARAGUA SINCE 2013

November 22, 2022 | Cocoa Stories

COSECHA PARTNERS: COMMITTED TO EMPOWERING NICARAGUAN SMALLHOLDER FARMERS THROUGH REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE 

Since 2016, Nicaragua has been officially recognized as a producer and exporter of fine flavour cocoa. This recognition was the culmination of years of efforts and investments from the private sector, cooperatives and producers. One of these actors is Cosecha Partners, an innovative social enterprise founded by Pilar Martínez and John Gohring in 2012.

Cosecha Partners is considered a pioneer in developing regenerative agricultural supply chains in organic crops like chia, coffee, macadamia and cacao. They have been reaching out and partnering with small holder producers from underserved rural communities who want to commit to organic agriculture but who can’t access any type of support mechanisms to improve their livelihoods. To date, Cosecha has benefitted more than 1,500 smallholder farmers and generated over $2.5 million in increased household income.

WHAT IS REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE?

“Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.

Regenerative Agricultural Practices are practices that: contribute to generating/building soils and soil fertility and health; increase water percolation, water retention, and clean and safe water runoff; increase biodiversity and ecosystem health and resiliency; and invert the carbon emissions of our current agriculture to one of remarkably significant carbon sequestration thereby cleansing the atmosphere of legacy levels of CO2.

Source: Regeneration International; Definition paper:

https://regenerationinternational.org/why-regenerative-agriculture/

COSECHA PARTNERS SMALLHOLDER OUTREACH PROGRAM

The smallholder outreach program designed by Cosecha Partners seeks to empower farmers by improving their performance, the quality and yield of their crops through: 

CAPACITY BUILDING: participating farmers are supported throughout the year by a team of agronomists to ensure quality, productivity, and continuous improvement. Through workshops and trainings, farmers improve their knowledge on production practices, soil conservation and management, organic production methods, pruning techniques, post-harvest handling, and farm rehabilitation and renovation (R&R).

Photograph courtesy of Cosecha Partners:

A training day in Wiwilí on cacao wet mass quality and cocoa fermentation.

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE: follow-up visits to each farmer are carried out throughout the year. During these visits, the field technicians can assess the individual farming practices, diagnose pests or diseases and recommend measures to improve the performance of the farm.

ACCESS TO FINANCE: Training and technical assistance are complemented with access to credit and distribution of organic inputs including seeds, seedlings, compost and fertilizers on credit. Producer partners also have access to training to learn to prepare organic inputs using locally available materials in order to reduce costs.

Photo courtesy of Cosecha Partners

Individualized visits to producers ensure as well that they remain committed to and comply with the requirements of the organic certification.

COSECHA PARTNERS SHARE MORE ABOUT THEMSELVES 

We reached out to Pilar and John to ask them to share with us interesting but perhaps less known aspects of the work of Cosecha Partners. These were four points they thought would be worth sharing with us: 

TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM: FULL TRACEABILITY TO THE INDIVIDUAL FARMER LEVEL

Cosecha uses a technology platform to collect and analyze detailed information on each of the cacao producers that are served through their smallholder outreach program. The data collected includes, amongst other:

Baseline household information on production, productivity, income, farming practices

Geo-reference (location) and photos of each farming household

Data on each purchase including date, volume, location, price

Household socioeconomic surveys to measure impact of outreach activities over time

Photo courtesy of Cosecha Partners

COSECHA ACADEMY

A mobile-based e-learning platform was developed for the cacao farmers who participate in the smallholder outreach program. The platform provides access to a content library (Cosecha-produced videos, brochures, how-to guides, etc.) that educates cacao farmers on regenerative organic and agroforestry practices and, importantly, how to increase farm level productivity and strengthen resilience.

The most important single factor to improve income is increased productivity and the Cosecha program emphasizes those practices and investments that will deliver significant performance boosts.

The platform also includes real-time weather information and a Q&A section where participants can ask questions and share experiences with the entire community. The platform is managed by Cosecha and monitored by their cacao technical team. 

QUALITY AND CONSISTENCY

Cosecha is meticulous about quality. Their post harvesting process ensures consistency in their profiles and adjustments are made to keep obtaining the desired results in spite of varying conditions.

Photo courtesy of Cosecha Partners

HURRICANE RECOVERY

Part of the outreach efforts of Cosecha Partners include work with farmers to mitigate the impacts of hurricane damage and prevent monilia and other diseases that negatively impact cacao systems after extreme weather events such as Hurricane Julia. 

Photo courtesy of Cosecha Partners.

Curious about Cosecha Partners and their work in Nicaragua? Make sure to visit their website to learn more about their different projects.

Want to try the different fine flavour types produced by Cosecha Parnters? Take a look at the profiles and order your samples here.

Join Waitlist We will inform you when the product arrives in stock. Please leave your valid email address below.