On 7 August, 2013, stakeholders participating in the Livestock and Fish Impact pathways and planning workshop visited the city of Camoapa, one of the main livestock production areas in Nicaragua, to witness firsthand the various levels of the dual-purpose cattle value chain.
The visit began with a meeting with Edmundo Robleto, mayor of Camoapa. He explained that most farmers in the area are empirical, and don’t have the capacities to assess their farms’ profitability. He emphasized that farmers need to witness the changes recommended to them during training sessions, in order for them to see they are effective. This requires continuous follow up after program intervention.
He also expressed that, while government actors in the area have ample understanding of the livestock sector through personal experience as livestock farmers, a stronger focus needs to be placed on strengthening pro-poor policies to benefit smallholders.
Participants then met with representatives of Cooperativa San Francisco, a farmer association that has been successful in commercializing their products to specialized markets. Denis Rivera, head of the association, explained that, while setting high-quality standards has allowed them to sell their products to more specialized markets, resource limitations make it difficult to provide adequate technical assistance to all of its 400 members. Assistance is thus targeted to farmers whose milk shows signs of decreased quality in lab tests.
The association also played an active role in the establishment of policies to ensure government-subsidized milk consumption in school-aged children, although policy enforcement in the matter has been lacking.
This visit was followed by a tour of a small livestock farm owned by Jose Vallejos, who is also a professor at the National Agrarian University (UNA). He shared his successful experience in improving his herd’s genetics aiming at increased milk production, as well as experimenting with different feed and forage combinations. Through the implementation of improved farm management practices, he was able to double his herd’s milk production. His farm also serves as a practice and experimentation site for UNA students.
Plant owner Ramon Urbina’s focus is on artisanal cheeses, processing 1,200 gallons of milk per day and catering to urban markets. He explained that one of his main constraints is a lack of specialized equipment to expand commercial possibilities. For instance, the plant lacks the equipment necessary to pasteurize milk which limits possibilities to compete in international markets with stricter quality standards.