Monday, December 14, 2009

Integrated Pest Management

IPM is an important step to take in agriculture extension work. It does not necessarily (in my view) mean eliminating all use of chemical pesticides and fertilizing products, but it certainly encourages reduced and pragmatic use of such products. For example, preventative maintenance of land and strict control of when and how much pesticides to apply (perhaps ensuring that a pest is indeed present before application). IPM should also promote the use of bio-control or natural products such as fungi and certain insects/parasites that control harmful pests. This is not a new topic, it is discussed in the well known food security book FOOD FIRST, and it is key to achieving sustainable agriculture (agriculture that is cost effective and not destructive to the environment).

Today I was given an article that comes from USAID and Fintrac, both of which aim to create sustainable agricultural progress in the developing world. This brief article speaks of using salicylic acid to boost plant resistance to disease. Essentially I understand it as promoting a healthy immune system in a plant just like consumers looking for antioxidant rich foods are trying to do in their body.

Neat concept, ¿no?

Read for yourself! Download the article "El Uso del Ácido Salicílico ..."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Plastic bottle bank experiment

As mentioned in my previous update, the local niños and I made some "piggy" banks out of used plastic bottles. Here are a few shots of the fun!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Nicaragua

After a great All Volunteer Conference in Managua with the topic of Food Security, I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving with new friends at a U.S. Embassy house.  A friend who works for USAID graciously invited a group of Peace Corps volunteers to his place for a wonderful dinner.  Vegetarian delights but also a turkey, which I was commissioned to carve.
Quick updates:  Two small sucesses! 
1.  In Jiguina we have initiated a great new English class...very hands on.  So hands on that we made hand turkeys to explain what the Thanksgiving holiday is about (we learned the verbs: to trace, to draw, to write).
2.  In an effort to teach SAVING MONEY, some local kids and I made piggy banks with used plastic bottles.  The kids had a blast painting and decorating the bottles, which they will hopefully fill with coins.  When the bottle is full, they can save it for the long run or cut open the bottle and use the money.  This group of children will hopefully form a Life Skills group that I am working on for 2010.

As we enter December I am charged to explore soya processing and marango leaf production, both of which may be able to help with nutrition and food security in my community...
Other than that...It is CAFÉ HARVEST TIME!

Machete, the national tool

A man's machete is certainly a key possession here in rural Nicaragua.  It is one detail of machismo that I had to adopt; although I don't use my machete daily, I felt it was a very necessary purchase to express my manhood.  The Nicaragua man (or woman for that matter) can do amazing things with the machete...cutting saw grass, cutting bricks, chopping fire wood, planting seeds, chiseling out a pretty exact cut from a piece of wood, et cetera, et cetera.
I suppose the frequency of machete use makes it a frequent instrument of injury as well.  Since moving to my community in Jinotega, Nicaragua I have seen three pretty bad machete inflicted wounds.  First, a special needs child limped to my house one evening looking for a band-aid for a stitch worthy gash on his knee.  Recently a girl came by my house with a patch over here eye...I later discovered that the patch is over the spot where her eye used to be.  While someone was chopping firewood, this poor girl took the blade to the eye.  I feel for her and I wish her the best, but accidents like this do happen--all over the world--and when little kids are playing around machetes, they happen more frequently.  I just hope that this girl doesn't stop going to school because of her unfortunate accident; however, I fear that school might be put off for a long while because of embarrassment.  Then we will have another uneducated woman in the town, only this one with one eye.  We can hope for the best!
Lastly, this morning I day dreamed about medical school after having to patch up a finger that had been sliced by a machete.  Pardon the mental image, but this man sliced off a good chunk, taking half a finger nail with it.  He is lucky, gracias a Dios, that he did not lose the appendage.  We cleaned it with alcohol before covering with gauze and antibiotic cream.  I of course had to explain that I am NOT a doctor and that I recommend he sees a doctor.  But, since I have a first aid kit, I feel that anything I can do to prevent infection is worth doing.  (I don't have much confidence that a visit to the doc will be made...).
So, please tenga cuidado con sus machetes!!