One of the hallmarks of the agricultural year 2009 was the severe drought which afflicted many of our partners. Nearly every one of our visits during the year included stories of failed crops, dustbowl-type conditions, withheld plantings, migrations of anxious farmers and serious hunger everywhere. The conditions and resulting futility, coupled with an already-distressed national and global economy, presented some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. Most of the groups which we encountered last year talked about how they were praying for rain of any kind to alleviate the stress.
With a new year, new hopes arise, as well, and my trips to Nicaragua in January and April were marked by an optimism that this year might be different. Many of the elders spoke of “signs” of better rains in 2010, that certain of Nature’s signals, the recognition of which had been handed down to generation after generation, indicated better growing seasons ahead. In fact, some early rains in April were already elevating the hopes of farmers across the country.
Whatever those ancient signs might have been, it seems as though the rest of us might be well-served to pay attention! The rains in Nicaragua throughout the past months have been persistent and even torrential at times, creating serious flooding and crop loss. Bean crops were ruined as heavy rains commenced just prior to the sensitive picking period. In some cases the second planting of crops will be eliminated altogether due to the wet fields, the very same fields which just last year prevented second plantings due to drought. It’s a frustrating reality to be hit by both ends of the same stick. I truly wonder about the resiliency of the human spirit when I witness such difficult challenges, one after the other.
It could still stop raining, even though it is the rainy season. The cloudless skies from last year could suddenly return. Fields could dry out, crops could flourish and harvests could exceed all expectations. I can only wonder when it will be Nicaragua’s turn….