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Hatching a new plan

Nicaragua, September 1, 2004

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    Working with a local poultry cooperative has ensured Adelina Aguileres of better technical support and healthier chicks. Photo: Roger Burks/Mercy Corps Photo:

Adelina Aguileres doesn't put all her eggs in one basket. Instead, she shares the load with several other women in her area.

Adelina belongs to a local farming cooperative of 40 women. The cooperative specializes in poultry farming throughout the Jiguina River Valley near Jinotega, Nicaragua.

Mercy Corps and local partner Asociación Aldea Global Jinotega, a small farmers' association, started working with these local women as the coffee crisis reached its peak. The organizations offer technical and financial assistance to this cooperative and others like it, helping the women expand their farms and ensure better food security for their families.

The coffee crisis brought widespread unemployment, poverty and hunger to all of Nicaragua. Farms around Jinotega were especially affected: 33% of the area's children suffer malnutrition and child mortality claims ten out of every thousand children.

Mercy Corps and Aldea Global's food security programs are empowering over 800 local mothers to produce and sell eggs, vegetables and fruits using organic farming practices. This creates higher-quality products that bring more income in local markets.

These programs are helping families like Adelina's begin to bounce back from the financial shock and strain the coffee crisis caused. Farming families are developing new skills and planting new crops to help guarantee food and income in the future.

Adelina's cooperative decided to pursue poultry farming in order to provide important meat and eggs to local communities, and also to sell chicks to farmers wanting to start their own poultry projects. In the past, it was difficult for local families to purchase chicks, which cost up to $2.25 per chick in nearby markets.

The goal of the cooperative is to increase the number of local poultry producers in order to provide cheaper, better quality chickens to the Jinotega area.

Adelina's cooperative distributes chicks to other farms in the area. When someone joins the cooperative, they receive a "starter kit" of a few chicks or eggs and an incubator. Women in the cooperative pay a small membership fee each year, which entitles them to technical advice from other members and a supply "exchange" that ensures that every farm maintains healthy chickens.

Adelina started working with the cooperative in February 2004, and has already seen a difference in her family's livelihood.

"Mercy Corps has had a big impact on our lives, which helps with our family budget," she said.

With help from Mercy Corps and Aldea Global, Adelina is hatching a new plan to provide for her family's needs.

For more information on Aldea Global, please visit the association's web site at www.PAGJINO.org.