Ometepe Training Center: Farming is best learned outdoors and Pontis training is mostly hands on. These five students in Ometepe are learning to produce an organic fungicide under the careful direction of new Pontis technicians Omar and David (not in photo).
SIEMPRE VIVA: With four technicians working in the field, Pontis started a new class at Siempre Viva. This small community is north of El Tuma near Nueva Esperanza.
Fifteen additional students are now studying sustainable agriculture and building enterprise farms.
VERACRUZ DEMO FARM: Pontis is pleased to announce a new partnership with WISErg (wiserg.com) to develop organic fertilizer distribution businesses within the farming communities. WISErg produces a liquid organic fertilizer and nutritional soil amendment using food scraps from restaurants and grocery stores as raw material.
The partnership will start with a test program to evaluate the WISErg fertilizer on a variety of crops on different farms in Nicaragua. The fertilizer will be analyzed for both its impact on the crops and its economic benefit to farm families and small farm cooperatives.
The Pontis team is excited about this opportunity to work with the WISErg team to help build strong businesses in rural Nicaragua.
MATAGALPA: Pontis is very pleased to announce that five students graduated from the Pontis Technician training course and received their certificates to become Pontis Field Technicians. Their certificates are a result of a demanding year-long course in sustainable agriculture and how to work with farm families.
In their new roles as Pontis team members Omar, David, Sergio, and Francisco will be teaching classes, mentoring farmers, and working with families in the field. Victor (center in the photo) will continue to work in the Matagalpa office assisting Ernesto developing training material.
Leck Heflin, Pontis Executive Director, commented, "This is the largest single growth in Pontis capability. We are excited how God's provision of these fine men will significantly increase how many families we can help."
MATAGALPA: Pontis is pleased to announce the purchase of a well drilling rig. In this photo, Leck Heflin closes the deal with Farrell Burton, Director of the Hope Project in Nicaragua.
Leck Heflin said about the drill project, "Our Well, Water, and Irrigation program is key to expanding farmers' options to grow throughout the year. Water for irrigation is a critical need on Ometepe and in the central dry region where over two-thirds of Pontis families farm. Over the coming months we will refurbish the rig, recruit a team, drill some practice wells, and start a small business to support farmers. I would like to specifically thank the congregation of Living Waters Church for making this possible."
OMETEPE: Last week tropical storm Nate pounded Nicaragua with significant damage to crops throughout the region. Pontis farmers saw up to 30% of their plantain trees blown over and ruined. But tropical storms are part of farming in Latin America and Pontis Sustainable Agriculture addresses how an enterprise farm business stays strong through tough times.
Teaching farmers to grow a variety of crops, such as the mixed corn and rice in this photo on Ometepe, with tolerance to various crises ranging from drought or deluge to market price fluctuations allows farm families to prosper through tough times. Rice and other low growing crops balanced out the losses for Pontis farmers from tropical storm Nate.
Tough times are part of life for any farmer and the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program helps farmers in Latin America be producers, not victims.
MANAGUA: It may look like a boring letter but this is the official notification that Pontis is a registered NGO in Nicaragua. It's a BIG DAY for Pontis. As the Pontis mission and team grow, it is necessary to be fully registered with the Nicaraguan government. The process took over a year to accomplish.
Registration in Nicaragua is also a key step in the long-term vision for Pontis to be led and operated by Nicaraguans. This is an answer to prayer and another step in God's plan to help the poor through sustainable small farms.
VERACRUZ DEMO FARM: Pontis is proud to report a new class and location for the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program. As the Pontis demo farm has developed better crops over the past two years, it has drawn the interest of neighboring farmers. Now a new class has started in Veracruz sharing the principles and techniques of successful enterprise farming with 7 new students.
Pontis now has six locations delivering the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program to farm families in local communities.
MATAGALPA: Seven trainees are currently attending the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program technician training. When they complete the training in December, they will be fully qualified to teach sustainable agriculture in classrooms and on farms. They attend in-residence classes, once per month at the Pontis Nicaragua office in Matagalpa.
Each trainee brings a unique set of experiences. Francisco Sotelo, standing on the right, is a pastor and farmer who organized his community to receive Pontis training two years ago. When complete, Pastor Francisco will be conducting classes and mentoring farm families on the Island of Ometepe.
VERACRUZ DEMO FARM: On May 6th the Pontis team put to good use the generous support from dozens of people in the US to drill a well on the Veracruz demo farm. This is part of the long term Pontis program to bring high-value farming to the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program students during the dry season. Dry season crops can add 50-100% to a farm family’s support and make the difference between barely getting by and thriving.
Ernesto, Pontis Agronomist, Leck, Executive Director, and Marvin, Farm Manager, take a moment to rest in front of the drill rig after the 180 foot well was completed. The Pontis team is now working to install the pumps, tie into and update the irrigation system, and start testing new methods. This is a great example where people in the US have made a big difference for small farm families in Latin America.