Nicaragua Agriculture/Farm Development Program
The Nicaraguan Farm Development Programs is set up to support projects that evolve out of Rancho Ebenezer, an 85 Acre Facility located at Niquinomo, east of Managua. These projects spring off Ebenezer's core animal husbandry program and include: agricultural development, Veterinary Medicine, Health clinics, and village farm development.
Plans are to add reforestation and fish farming when funding becomes available. CODEP type management systems utilizing results orientation, structured management, accountability, measurable rates of return etc. are being added.
Francisco Juarex Zapata, a graduate agricultural economist, started Rancho Ebenezer a number of years ago with wide support from several Christian groups in the USA. The operation grew into an excellent training facility for "Campasinos", small farmers from poor mountainside villages. The fundamental products are one week training sessions to teach subsistence farming and goats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys and duck breeding for base stocks provided to the small farmers. The goat farm is stocked with 250 head and the rabbit farm with 1000 head.
Rancho Ebenezer currently has an excellent training facility with three dormitories with housing for 40 students. There are 24 full-time employees with families living on the farm. The teaching facilities are well equipped and there are offices and a large kitchen (bio-gas stoves, refrigeration). The Veterinary Clinic & Lab has multiple teaching stations and a fully equipped 8 station medical/veterinary laboratory. There is a clean water supply from a new 900 Foot well with a pumping system and an emergency power supply.
Dr. Richard Ervin D.V.M., a veterinarian from the USA arrived in 2007 to lead the Veterinary Medicine, Health Clinics, and Village Farm Development programs. He is assisted by his wife, Mary Ervin, R.N. who will serve as medical director. Historically, Rancho Ebenezer has supported small farmers from 18 remote mountain villages. The program will now be expanded over the next few years to 35 villages. Dr. Ervin will put veterinary clinics in each village. In partnership with the Provadenic Health System (Nicaragua Health Ministry), medical clinics will also be set up. The Ervins will train technicians, provide supplies and equipment, and supervise these operations. The clinic programs will require funding of approximately $53,000 per year to cover personnel and medical supplies.
Village Farm Development will follow the clinics. Two-three demonstration farms will be put together in each of the 35 mountainside villages (approximately 200 people per village). The demonstration farms are typically 2 acres and support about six persons. The village program will provide stocking animals, goat pens, rabbit cages, water reservoirs, food storage etc. for startup of each pilot farm. Goats will be raised in elevated pens with slat supports allowing recovery of manure. The manure mixed with shredded food and plants for compost. Vegetable gardens will be planted reinforced with small plant containers made from abandoned auto tires. The expected productivity improvements should sustain the family units, provide for the family's future, and gain support for community wide support. Cost of the development farm projects will be $125,000 per year to cover all 35 villages.