We wrapped up our second to last week, as well as one of our two projects – nursery certification. Where, oh where, did the time go?

We presented our findings in the Managua TechnoServe (TNS) office (which was well received) before making our final five-hour drive to Ocotal. It feels bittersweet as we’ve done this drive up and down Nicaragua 1 every week, for the last five weeks, with five people in a small pick-up truck. A part of me will certainly miss unexpected rain storms and abruptly pulling over to cover our belongings in the back of the truck, as well as our routine stops at the La Colonia supermarket in Esteli for a bathroom and snack break.

In order for a plant to be fully certified, the seeds must be certified as well. As it turns out, there is only one farm in Nicaragua with certified seeds and the variety does not grow at the higher altitudes where our producers are. One might assume this issue would have been addressed prior to our project starting, however, we’ve learned that often times this is how things go in Nicaragua. One representative will tell you one thing, while another will tell you the complete opposite. We have been working with IPSA, the Department of Agriculture, and a representative has been present at every single training, and even inspected Denis’ farm the day prior to our final presentation, without once mentioning the certified seeds, or lack thereof.

TNS will continue with the project and ensure these producers are successful in certifying their nurseries. I think one of the most important components of the training was actually getting the producers to evaluate and understand their costs. Producing plants without certification provides producers with a mere 11% profit margin, while producing certified plants offers a profit margin of almost four times that – 41%.

There is still a tremendous opportunity and I am confident these producers will be able to take advantage of it. Denis gave his final presentation and I was so proud of the work he accomplished. I will certainly keep in touch with him and was very sad to say goodbye (but not without gifting him a PIMCO hat!).

We finished off our last trip in Esteli with a stop at the Estanzuela Waterfall, led by our Esteli TNS team. Beautiful!

The Volunteer

Tana Megalos

Associate-Internal Advisor Consultant, GWM

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