Organic Farming in Nicaragua

Nicaragua has a tropical climate and fruits and vegetables grow well here. The dry season (mid-Nov to mid-May) can be very dry and any young trees or vegetables need regular watering during the dry season. The rainy season (the rest of the year) can be very wet and good drainage must be provided for a successful crop. High wind from the north and east can be a problem during the dry season and wind barriers (trees) must be planted to protect crops from the wind. Even fruit trees must be protected because the wind will blow flowers and small fruits off the trees. Fruit trees planted as wind barriers typically have most of their fruit on the leeward side of the dry season wind. Rainy season winds are variable and not nearly as strong.

Organic farming in Nicaragua is not practiced widely. Consequently, there is a need to protect organic farmland from runoff and ground water migration from nearby agricultural areas. Low dirt mounds (30cm high) can be established along the perimeter of the organic farm as a protection from neighbor’s runoff. Vetiver (similar to Lemon Grass) is planted on top of these mounds to protect from contaminated ground water migration. Vetiver has a very deep and dense root system that helps prevent ground water migration.

Dried cow manure (Estiercol) is readily available in most agricultural areas. Estiercol has a low nitrogen content and must be applied regularly to maintain well fertilized plants.  Beans can be planted between rows of fruit trees to supplement the estiercol fertilization. Chicken manure has much higher nitrogen content but dry chicken manure is not readily available in Nicaragua. Soil mineral supplements (micro nutrients) acceptable for organic farming are commercially available from Bayer agricultural products distributors.

Since Nicaragua is a tropical climate, insect pests can be a problem, particularly in the rainy season. Neem Oil (Nim oil in Nicaragua) is a very effective organic insect control agent that is available in Nicaragua. The Nim Oil sold in Nicaragua is produced in Jinotepe(on the Pan Am highway south of Managua) right from nim fruits harvested locally. We think that the nim oil is much more effective than the Neem oil sold in the US because the fruits are crushed fresh and the oil is not diluted.

Another Neem tree pest control agent is Nim Te. Nim Te is prepared at your farm by placing Nim tree leaves in a barrel and adding water. The leaf/water mixture is allowed to stand for 3-4 days. Strain the liquid and put the Neem “tea” (Nim Te) directly into the sprayer and apply to the leaves. Nim Te is a very effective pest control agent.

More sophisticated organic pest control agents such as spinosads are not readily available in Nicaragua. Bayer has a line of spinosad products but the local distributor does not stock spinosads. Dow’s spinosad product (“Entrust”) is USDA Organic Farm approved, but Dow does not distribute their products in Nicaragua.

Pepper planting in crop areas is also effective in controlling insects. Peppermint oil has been effective in controlling rodents (mice & rats). But a good “farm cat” is even more effective for controlling rodents.

Organic Certification under USDA Certification Regulations can be obtained from Bio Latina in Managua. The process typically takes about three years for full certification. Quinta Limon is currently “in process” for Organic Certification under USDA Certification Regulations.

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