Now we have made strides in improving our capital … land and water
Marvin Mairena is a young farmer, member of the La Hermandad Cooperative in the community of Los Andes, municipality of San Ramon. He and his family have taken on the challenge of increasing the level of production on the farm without compromising family security and the environment. Marvin tell us his story.
“I am Marvin Mairena, coffee farmer. I am 33, married with 2 children. Ever since I was born, I have lived and worked in this community. As a Cooperative, we have an area of about 20 hectares dedicated to growing coffee.
“We used to use agrochemicals a lot in growing coffee, which drove up production costs, with the risk of polluting the soil and sources of water. This also made us much more dependent on the stores where agrochemicals and other farming materials are sold. At that time, we were not in the habit of using the coffee by-products. We were not clear on the meaning of the concept of agroecology, or the importance of the connections between forest – soil – crops – living organisms.
“When Blue Harvest arrived, we started a training process, and at the Farmer Field Schools (FFS) we learned to use practices and innovations for agroecological management of crops. We also shared information and experiences with other growers, analyzing the issues, and making joint decisions, mainly on matters of soil management, water source protection and coffee crop management with an agroforestry system approach. Facilitators and growers are at the same level, each learning from the other.
“We are preparing mountain-microorganism based solid concentrate to prepare organic fertilizer, and biofertilizers that we apply to improve the nutrition of the coffee and other vegetables. We collect mountain microorganisms from our forest. Then, we process them and prepare the products. This helps with plant nutrition, and in managing pests for a microbiological equilibrium. To help soil fertility, we have also learned to use legumes for coverage, like the Cannavalia, which provides nitrogen, conserves soil humidity, and is effective in controlling weed growth. By using these techniques, we expect crops to be healthy, and to get a better price for our products in the future.”
As part of the lessons learned in water resource management, Marvin states, “We have learned to protect our water sources, and maintain and improve community water system supply. With Blue Harvest support we installed water filters and a storage tank, which ensure access to plentiful and good-quality water. We have improved our water system. We want our agricultural production to move closer to an ecological balance. Blue Harvest has provided us with support to promote a cleaner production, while protecting our forest because it gives us water, air and mountain microorganisms.”