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Communities of gifted artisans in Northern Nicaragua

 San Juan de Limay:
Art and beauty of soapstone

A two hour travel on a rocky road takes you from Estelí to the small town of San Juan de Limay, famous in Nicaragua for its beautiful sculptures. Lining the road you can observe dozens of voluptuous female figures carved of white soapstone. In San Juan de Limay there are more than thirty artisans and artists, whose workshops are open for tourists so that you can see how they transform soft soapstone in images of birds, iguanas and graceful plump women. Soapstone jewelry made in San Juan de Limay is sold in Nicaragua and abroad under the label of La Preciosa by a cooperative of artisans and professionals.

Corn husk flowers and paintings:
A world of bright and joyful colours

Estelí is the only place in Nicaragua, where artisans produce lively and colorful orchids, roses and paintings of corn husk. In the municipal culture centre, Casa de Cultura, Juan Carlos Moreno, a talented artist, leads a team of artisans who produce paintings that reflect the nature and traditions of Northern Nicaragua. In a nice coffee shop called El Zaguán de Doña Milagros, a group of women produce and sell their corn husk flowers, handmade cards and other handicrafts from Estelí, Somoto. Ocotal and Jalapa. Here you can buy intresting products that cannot be found in other parts of Nicaragua. El Zaguán de Doña Milagros is a good place for a delicious coffee break, as they offer the best coffees of local cooperatives together with traditional Nicaraguan corn bisquits.

Dipilto, Mozonte and Jalapa:
Hand-woven baskets made from pine needles

Dipilto, Mozonte and Jalapa are small towns located in the Nicaraguan region of Las Segovias near the border with Honduras. Groups of women living in these communities make amazing hand-woven baskets from thousands of natural pine needles. The pine-needle baskets are of very good quality, and the artisans have found buyers both in the local and international markets. Handicraft production has resulted in the empowerment of women and in creating new employment opportunities, which contribute to the alleviation of poverty.

 Mozonte and Ducuale Grande:
Chorotega tradition reflected in pottery

The very first inhabitants of Mozonte and Ducuale Grande were the Chorotegas originated from Mexico. In both of these two communties, pottery crafts are an important attraction for tourists, and  also the main source of income for many families. In the charming town of Mozonte near Ocotal, there are more than twenty potters´ workshops producing a great variety of decorative items painted with vivid colours. In the rural community of Ducuale Grande a couple of miles from Condega, you can visit a women´s cooperative dedicated in traditional pottery where only the rich natural colours of burned clay are used in designs which reflect the Chorotegan roots of the artisans.

Yalaguina:
Bamboo baskets contain ingredients for sustainable development

A few years ago, families living in the small village of Terrero suffered from hunger and undernourishment as a severe drought had destroyed the crops of corn and beans and decimated the livestock. In this difficult situation, some of the members of the community formed an artisans´ cooperative for the production and marketing of bamboo baskets. These kinds of baskets are widely used in Nicaragua in the coffee harvest. Today, the cooperative has a new workshop in Yalaguina at the side of the highway and they are selling thousands of baskets each year for coffee farmers and local bakeries. Take a break in your journey to meet the artisans and to admire their work.

Agricultural cooperatives in Nicaragua:
Making the value chains work

In Nicaragua there are many cooperatives working with small farmers with the purpose of improving the efficiency of the local value chains. Many of the women in the small rural communities have started up their own production initiatives such as pigsties and poultry farms. The agricultural cooperatives have also developed small scale irrigation schemes to increase the crops of fruits and vegetables. Jaakkola Tours offers you an opportunity to see “the farmers´ Nicaragua” visiting the agricultural cooperatives in Somoto, the Fair Trade coffee growers of Boaco and Dipilto or the beekeepers of San Pedro near the border with Honduras.