MPs witness impact of Canadian support for Nicaraguan farmers

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Members of Parliament Sonia Sidhu, Anju Dhillon, Ziad Aboultaif and Mona Fortier travelled to Nicaragua in January 2018 with Foodgrains Bank executive director Jim Cornelius to learn about the importance of Canada’s support for small-scale agriculture is helping Nicaraguan communities lift themselves out of poverty and build a bright future for themselves and their children. (Photo: Charlene Wieler)

From January 14 to 19, members of Parliament Sonia Sidhu, Anju Dhillon, Ziad Aboultaif and Mona Fortier travelled with Foodgrains Bank executive director Jim Cornelius to visit Government of Canada-funded agricultural development projects in Nicaragua. They saw first-hand how Canadian support is making a difference for people around the world fighting their way out of poverty.

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. But abject poverty isn’t what Mona Fortier, Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier remembers most about her trip to visit Government of Canada-funded agricultural development projects in Nicaragua.

Instead, Fortier recalls Rosa Martinez, a Nicaraguan woman the group visited in the rural community of Teustepe.

“I was overwhelmed by Rosa’s dedication and resilience,” says Fortier. “She is an amazing woman and mother who is taking action and making a difference for her community.”

Martinez, alongside her husband, supports her family by growing a crop on a small plot of land.

Climate change, and its effects makes it difficult for farmers like Martinez to predict when to plant. Irregular rainfall can result in crop failures. Families in the community regularly experience hunger.

Through a sustainable agriculture project implemented by Canadian Foodgrains Bank member Presbyterian World Service & Development with support from the Government of Canada, Rosa has learned about crop diversification for better nutrition and crop resilience, how to store water, and how to start seedlings in cups for better plant growth and strength.

Because of what she’s learned, Martinez is growing more food for her family, and selling some of her crops as well.

“Even though farmers here deal with climate change, levels of poverty are high, and there are very hard conditions for growing crops, I was moved by how proud the project participants were to share their realities and individual experiences,” says Fortier.

For Fortier, the trip was a chance to see how support from Canada is making a positive difference for people in poor countries who are working their way out of poverty through agriculture.

“As a Member of Parliament, you are pulled in many directions on a daily basis,” she says. “It was empowering for me to meet with farmers and see hands-on how our work has a global benefit.”

–Amanda Thorsteinsson, Communications Coordinator