SHEAF/ESPIGA is pleased to partner with the Association of Farming Cooperatives (Unión de Cooperativas Agropecuarias ( UCA)) in the Matagalpa Area of Nicaragua. Farmers are spread over 21 co-operatives who are members of UCA. The UCA is committed to supporting small producers in their growing and marketing of crops including coffee, basic grains, and vegetables. They have added the cultivation of macadamia trees to this repertoire.
Introduction of Macadamia Trees
The objective of this project is to increase crop diversity by introducing an alternative crop to coffee in Nicaragua. The coffee market is inherently volatile, and causes economic instability and hardships, partially because it is so highly seasonal for farmers. Macadamia trees are planted strategically to provide shade for coffee, which enhances the quality of the coffee as well as provide a macadamia crop.
Farmers, who are active members of the UCA in San Ramon are participating in this project. Their farms are located in different zones and at different elevations in the Matagalpa area of Nicaragua.
The farmers are small landowners with two to three acres of land. Each of the participants cultivates 20 trees on about half an acre. The first seedlings, imported from Guatemala in 2008, are now producing their first nuts. Some of the nuts produced will be planted to produce future trees.
The project was expanded by providing farmers with seeds from Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador. These seeds have grown into substantial saplings. The last seeds were purchased in 2014. Currently there are 26 farmers who have a total of approximately 490 trees spread over six co-operatives. The plants range in size from 25 to 900cms (about 1 to 29 feet) The trees grown at an elevation of 700 to 1000 metres (about 2 to 3 thousand feet) seem to fare the best.
The focus now is on learning methods designed to encourage growth of trees and discourage diseases and pests. Ideas for harvesting, roasting and marketing are underway. Eventually SHEAF hopes this will become a commercial viable enterprise
The Growth of a Macadamia Tree from 2009 to 2016