Multi-stakeholder platforms on sustainable livestock production and the application of the Farmer Field School methodology in the Southern Caribbean Autonomous Region (RACCS) of Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest livestock producer in Central America, and the RACCS (Southern
Caribbean Autonomous Region) is the largest livestock production area in Nicaragua. One of the
most important land use changes in RACCS over the last decades has been the widespread
conversion of forest to pastureland. Livestock is the #1 driver of deforestation across the region.
Each year, about 80 percent of the deforested area is converted to pasture. This is inherently
linked to the advancement of the palm oil frontier; as livestock producers move deeper into
pristine forest areas under a land speculation model, palm oil tends to follow 10 -15 years behind
this path of destruction. Apart from the region with the highest levels of livestock, RACCS has as
well the highest potential for expansion of livestock and cocoa production. Without adequate
policies and knowledge, RACCS is vulnerable to massive deforestation and decreasing resilience
to climate change.
The social costs and negative environmental impacts resulting from subsequent deforestation
are enormous and include soil degradation and erosion, water pollution, biodiversity loss,
increased greenhouse gas emissions, and the loss of carbon accumulation potential.
Several very promising developments related to sustainable livestock are underway in Nicaragua,
including Zero Deforestation commitments. Solidaridad and CIAT have been leading actors for
the livestock sector in Nicaragua. In 2020 we supported the annual meeting of the “Livestock
Zero Deforestation” platform consisting of private sector and civil society actors. Themes
included agreements between sector organizations to develop a “deforestation-free label” for
dairy and beef, and promoting the diversification of livestock farms with cacao and agroforestry
through policy development, (technical/economic) feasibility analyses and market studies. The
platform also decided to prioritize the creation of a national roundtable for sustainable livestock,
similar to roundtables in other countries in Latin America and with the intention to be part of the
Global Roundtable of Sustainable Beef (GRSB). With continued commitment, we can greatly
affect the outcomes of these dialogues and immediately bring our expertise from the HN Zero
Deforestation commitments to Nicaragua (See table 1 for details).
This is an opportune moment to continue engaging livestock and cocoa producers in the
implementation of best practices and focus on vertical productivity increases under an inclusive
business model that focuses on diverse production systems designed around integrated and
sustainable landscape management principles.
Solidaridad; Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT