(NICARAGUA) Entering Victor Solano’s house in rural Nicaragua, you might think you are walking into in a soda shop. Big plastic soda bottles of every brand — Coke, Pepsi, Sprite and several brands local to Nicaragua — line the exterior walls of his home.

But if you look closer, you can see that, instead of a carbonated drink, the bottles are filled with kernels of corn and beans. Here’s why:

The average Nicaraguan family needs about 400 lbs of corn and 200 lbs of beans for their consumption between harvests. In the countryside, everyone grows at least this much for their own consumption. From a food security standpoint, this is great. However, once the crops are harvested, the corn is stored in its husk and piled in a corner of the home while beans are shelled from the pods, dried and stored in a wooden box. These storage methods can result in 25-30% harvest lost to mice, rats, insects and mold. Not so great. Post-harvest crop losses inevitably contribute to household nutrition challenges, as food reserves are stretched to make it through “el periodo muerto” — or “dead time” — between the harvests. So World Renew is not just concerned about increasing yields, but we also work with farmers to protect their harvests. Air-tight, metal silos and double-bagging the grain in non-permeable plastic bags are the most common options. Victor, however, came up with his own creative storage technique that doesn’t cost him anything extra.  This is his testimony…..

I’ve always liked to save my harvest and have enough food for my family. I used to keep my cobs of corn with the husks still on and just pile them in rows in the house. No matter how I protected it, I would lose some of it to mice and rats. And inevitably the weevils would manage to get in. With World Renew I’ve learned how to store my corn and beans in discarded plastic pop bottles. When I first started collecting them, my wife, Lucrecia, thought I was crazy! She thought I’d never have enough bottles to store all our seed, but my neighbours gave me their old bottles, and we hunted for the rest. I managed to store 400 pounds of corn and 200 lbs of beans! You can fit 6 pounds of grain in each bottle! After 6 months, I checked the beans and corn to show Lucrecia, and sure enough, no weevils or mice damage, and the beans cooked up as soft as if they were newly harvested. So now we are always on the lookout for more used bottles! I’ve taught my friends and neighbours how to keep their grains like this, too. I’m proud to have learned this since God helps those who help themselves!

Seeing participants in our programs grab onto ideas and put them into practice is exciting. When they share their ideas with others, that’s the ripple effect we love to see.



Mark Vanderwees

Country Consultant
World Renew Nicaragua