In August of 2014, ECHO established the Central America/Caribbean Regional Impact Team. The goals of this team are to:

  • Make appropriate technical information more widely available among persons and organizations who serve to alleviate hunger and improve the lives of small-scale farmers.
  • Increase the awareness of regionally important crops, animal breeds and farming systems by seeking out, sharing and promoting effective indigenous innovations related to food sufficiency and poverty alleviation.
  • Increase the availability of seeds of select regionally important crops among development workers, encourage regional seed saving and sharing and determine the availability of other significant plant material.
  • Encourage networking and information sharing among development workers in each region.


Brad Ward

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Central America & Caribbean Updates

Experimenting with Medicinal Plants in Matagalpa Nicaragua 2017-04-11

Through many mistakes and trials, Sarah Hornsby, and husband Jim, learned much of the practical use of medicinal plants from their experience in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

The reforestation project started with the purchase of land in the Arenal Forest Reserve. From there, the learning process began bringing to life the concept of “it takes a village to …” Neighbors were paid to help collect seedlings of native plants from surrounding forest to use in reforestation.  Unfortunately, all five thousand neatly planted and labeled seedlings were planted on top of a hill where strong winds made it known the planting location was a mistake. Moving the seedlings to a more protected location invited other mishaps and lead to the creation of an informational website to share experiences and lessons learned.

Fencing and a gravel road were built. Donations of stakes and seedlings for the project were received, as well as a visit from the government forestry inspector who had to ensure the right trees were cut and tools used. Don Pedro, a local man who grew up in the area, and knew all the trees by names and characteristics, began the second nursery.  Moringa was included, however, it did not flourish in the climate.

Connections with individuals involved in the use of medicinal plants followed.  Dr. Gloria Corrales, a medical doctor, shared her knowledge, books and network of individuals using medicinal plants.  Alan Bolt, the author of “The Medicinal Plants of Peñas Blancas”, and creator of the Center for Development with Nature, also connected with Sarah and became an important member of the network.

This journey of reforestation and growth will inspire readers and provoke hope to those who labor in the field.  Failure is a teacher which leads to hearts we might not have known if successful at the first try.

This is an excerpt of an upcoming article in ECHO Caribbean and Central America Notes ( Subscribe Today )

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About Central America & Caribbean

Central America and the Caribbean is a region of deep contrasts. Over the past two decades there has been substantial social and economic growth, enabling some to make the leap from poverty and vulnerability to stability and relative middle class comfort. Infrastructure in most large cities is modern with reliable transportation systems connecting centers of trade. The landscape is dotted with shopping centers that host well known American businesses.

However, beginning at the edges of the modern cities one can see the acute symptoms of a widespread and destructive force; the crushing weight of hopelessness in the rural villages that are home to nearly half of the region’s population. Every year hundreds of rural families abandon farming as their traditional survival strategies are no longer sufficient to support even a meager existence.

47 million people in the region suffer from hunger and malnutrition, mainly women and children.  

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