Del Campo, an umbrella cooperative in Nicaragua with a membership of over 590 smallholder farmers, are not only dedicated to growing a range of high-quality produce but are striving to become a model example of equality and sustainability in the agricultural sector.
Juan Bravo, Del Campo member and President of the International Nut Cooperative, a network of smallholder farmers – who also happen to be majority shareholders of Liberation – has been overseeing the great effort put into developing environmentally friendly technology.
“Besides destroying our nature, polluting agrochemicals are the main means for the decapitalization of small producers. The production and use of natural biofertilizers for soil and disease control are becoming common practice. In Del Campo we already use biofertilizers for the sesame, peanut, bean and corn crops.”
This year they have also harvested their first organic peanut crop and in the last two years have used Fairtrade Premiums to contribute towards a varied selection of projects from beekeeping and conservation to vocational training programmes for coop family members.
Nicaragua has an average of 200 hours of sunshine per month but many areas are still prone to regular power cuts. In 2018, when the Nicaraguan government began subsidising the importation of solar panels, Del Campo needed no persuasion in making an investment – both from an environmental and business perspective it made sense. An initial purchase of 68 panels was installed into the processing factories, the cooperatives´ Head Office and a holistic medicinal training centre run by the cooperative for community members.
So, just a few years on, both the office and training centre are being completely run on solar energy. Consistent electrical power has vastly improved communication channels with customers and enabled more efficient running of the business. A saving of over 25% in electricity bills is also being made along with a noticeable reduction in the purchasing of crude oil, normally used for generating electricity.
The success of this initial investment both on a social and environmental level now means the cooperative is planning on making further investments to have 125 solar panels for 50% energy saving on factory production in the next few years and hope to eventually be fully run by solar energy in the future. Afterall, it makes sense both for business and the planet.