“Come, let us show you what we are doing now!” Farmers in Nicaragua couldn’t wait to show visitors from the United States what they had accomplished now that they own their own land.
The program to help Nicaraguan farmers buy and farm their own land is called Farmer to Farmer. Terry and Mary Hubers, members of Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Center, Iowa, hatched the plan with other Iowa farmers after visiting Nicaragua six years ago.
Partnering with the Food Resource Bank, Partners Worldwide, and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Farmer to Farmer initially helped eight farmers to buy their own land.
The Iowa farmers donated proceeds from a designated number of crop acres. That allowed them to give interest-free loans of $300-$400 to Nicaraguan farmers, to be paid back over 10 years. Two of the original eight farmers have nearly paid for their farms already.
Civil war and local government corruption make getting clear titles to land challenging, but the program has expanded from eight farmers to 54. More are waiting.
Don and Bonnie Vos, farmers and members of Bethel CRC in Oskaloosa, Iowa, were two of the American visitors. They recently traveled to Nicaragua to help with the coffee harvest.
“We had done mission work for years,” said Bonnie. “But this is something near and dear to our hearts.”