At the end of August, we received videos from the farmers' organisation Coosempoda in Nicaragua. In the footage you see their staff splendidly using a new machine for washing, sorting, drying and packaging roots and tubers. As the carrots are deposited directly from the jute sacks after collection in the field, jumping from station to station on the processing line, shedding all the soil into the water, the images filled me with enthusiasm.
Nicaragua remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America where 2.1 million out of 6 million people live on US$1.76 dollars or less per day.
I have rarely seen this scene during a visit to the facilities of a Nicaraguan smallholder farmers’ organisation. A room with women washing and packing vegetables in an artisan way is the usual sight.
Access to loans to invest in improving processes, quality or infrastructure is a panacea in the Central American country. Microfinance institutions offer very low amounts at high-interest rates and banks consider vegetable and fruit producer organisations as a "high-risk sector".