INTRODUCTION: The International Fund for Agricultural Development -- a specialised agency of the United Nations -- is playing a major part in the reconstruction of Nicaragua.
GV PAN Regadillo Valley near Buteli
GV Workers walking across newly-planted corn field
SV & CU Worker spraying corn plants (2 shots)
SV & CU Workers digging irrigation ditches (3 shots)
SV Government official examining plants and talking to workers (5 shots)
SV & GV Workers weeding potato field (2 shots)
GV & CU Worker with ox-drawn plough earthing up potato field (3 shots)
GV Workers hacking off tops of potato plants (2 shots)
GV Potato field being ploughed up
SV Workers harvesting potatoes
GV Workers entering Esteli National Development Bank
SV INT Farmer asking for loan and signing papers (3 shots)
CU ZOOM TO GV Cotton field
SV Workers picking cotton (2 shots)
SV PAN & GV Cotton being weighed and loaded onto truck (3 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The International Fund for Agricultural Development -- a specialised agency of the United Nations -- is playing a major part in the reconstruction of Nicaragua. The country is still suffering from the after-effects of the civil war of two years ago; and from the economic legacy of the semi-feudal Somoza dictatorship which the revolution overthrew.
SYNOPSIS: This farming land is near Esteli -- scene of bitter fighting during the war, but now being brought back into fruitful production. Before the revolution, vast tracts of land were personally owned by the Somoza family. Their holdings were put at some 350,000 hectares (more than 850,000 acres). Thousands of landless peasants worked on these lands in semi-feudal conditions. The present government's policy encourages the development of small family farms, though rural collectives are also being organised. The first priority is simply to grow more food.
Government technicians visit the farms, advising smallholders on crop production and the best ways of increasing yields. Despite the fertile soil, Nicaraguan agriculture has one of the lowest yields in Central America.
The International Fund -- IFAD -- signed a 12-million dollar loan agreement with the Nicaraguan government in December 1979. Its main purpose was to help provide credits for small farmers. About 38,000 medium and small farming families were expected to benefit from the project; and IFAD said its resources would be directed particularly towards the smallest holdings of 12 hectares (30 acres) or less.
Potatoes -- a staple crop for the small man, who is producing for his family's own consumption and the local market, rather than for commerce on a large scale. The basic purpose of IFAD is to help developing countries, like Nicaragua, to expand their food production, improve the nutrition of the people, and combat rural poverty by means of agricultural loans.
Individual farmers can borrow at 11 percent, co-operatives at eight percent. Seasonal credits, for seed or fertiliser for instance, are repayable in 12 to 18 months; loans to buy animals or small pieces of equipment can be paid back in up to five years.
Cotton is one of Nicaragua's main exports. Other cash crops include coffee, sugarcane and tobacco. The IFAD project is contributing to improving these crops, as well as the output of the smallholdings. It aims to bring production back at least to the level of 1978-9, before the worst of the fighting. Other outside contributors to Nicaraguan reconstruction are the Inter-American Development Bank and the Venezuelan Trust Fund. The United States recently suspended 15-million dollar credits after accusing Nicaragua of helping to arm guerrillas in neighbouring El Salvador.