TechnoLinks+ (TL+) is MEDA’s agrobusiness project in Nicaragua whose goal is to connect small-scale farmers to green technology providers - improving agricultural practices across the country while promoting gender equality and environmental sustainability. To achieve this goal, the TL+ project collaborates with two main agricultural groups: small-scale farming producers and farming cooperatives.
Producers are offered “eVouchers” which are electronic discounts used to introduce green technologies at reduced prices. This not only encourages farmers to use green technologies but is also an opportunity to facilitate a relationship between the producer and technology providers. The technology providers help the farmers increase their harvest, improve their product quality – increasing the profitability of their farms and businesses.
Farming cooperatives typically consisting of small-scale, producers who collaborate to learn, advocate for their needs and advance their knowledge of farming methods for their product. Farming cooperatives affiliated with MEDA are presented with the opportunity to apply for a matching grant with TL+. Cooperatives with an innovative agricultural or business plan that is in line with the goals of TL+ can design and submit a proposal. These proposals go through a rigorous submission process with three stages of review before winners are selected. Winning proposals exemplify business promotion in finance and supply chain, environmental sustainability, gender inclusivity and producer job markets.
One of the successful applicants of TL+’s matching grant program is Rosa. Rosa is the manager of the farming cooperative COOSEMTRI, R.L.. Rosa’s cooperative produces 23% of the locally-grown tomatoes consumed nationally. This is significant because most tomatoes in Nicaragua are imported.
Before winning the grant, MEDA provided Rosa support to undertake a diagnostic of the cooperative to help them develop a business plan that would increase their efficiency and profitability. This led them to design an application which requested funds to invest in manufacturing technology that would convert fresh tomatoes into pulp and paste.
TechnoLinks+ is currently in the process of allocating the matching grants to the winners. Because tomato farming is a year-round process, permanent employment is held by the members of the cooperative - 30% of which are women. It is expected that with the technology purchased with this matching grant, Rosa’s cooperative will support year-round employment of women producers, as well as increasing domestic production, therefore boosting agricultural activity and boosting the overall Nicaraguan economy.