Solving the seed import problem

In http://www.nicaliving.com/node/20394 I brought up the problem of having seeds confiscated. It looks like this has happened to three other people. While that thread has turned into mostly a political discussion, there is still an issue here. Anyone interested in figuring out what to do to solve it?

I think there a lot more of us that either smuggle in seeds or would like to be ablt to acquire small quantities of seeds that are not available here. While I have used five or more different suppliers in three different countries, I don't have any particular attachment to those suppliers. I just want a way to acquire small quantities of non-GMO, (and generally non-hybrid) seeds.

What I don't want to have to do is fill out endless paperwork, make trips to Managua and such. My orders have been from $15 to $150. It is not worth the overhead. The solution could be, for example, a particular supplier that gets pre-approved by MAGFOR or a shipper such at Trans-Express who will do the paperwork on both the shipping and receiving end. Or even some government exemption for small quantities of seed.

This is important to me and I expect I am not alone. My feeling is that a bunch of us work together we can find a solution. Otherwise, we will remain individual victims.

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after all these comments...

(and goddess knows you tried to keep it on track Phil) I don't see anyone saying what seems most obvious to me which is, if you have someone you know visiting you ask them to bring them with them when they come down.

Order online and have the seed company mail them to your friends house instead of your billing address. Shouldn't be a problem.

...details on how to bring them in might be another discussion.

Doors of hope fly open when doors of promise shut. -Thomas D'Arcy McGee

yes/no/maybe

Sneeking plants and seeds in on the sly is the time honored way people , including Nicaraguans, have been doing it for centuries. Everybody has a pet tomato or whatever that they want to bring to the ``new country``.

FYL`s point is what if you are a serious gardener/subsistence farmer and just want to do things the normal way you would in the States: go online to a sophisticated company that has good information and specialty seed. I`,m not talking about marajahuna or opium seeds, I`m talking about Tropic VFN tomatoes that are rated for resistence to 12 different diseases. I had an agronomist visit the house the other week and we were chatting. She smiled and said :``there are no organic tomatoes in Nicaragua--many growers spray 15 times or more per crop``. Well, I`m not an organic grower, so that is not my angle, but an IPM grower who wants to minimize problems and good seed selection is a key to that mindset.

There are 2 ways to resolve the seed problem--a group of people who work with magfor and probably 1 or a small number of companies in the US that are State certified, and willing to export. Problem is, not everybody wants the same seed, and there is a definate economy of scale problem here. My desire for 5 packs of oddball seeds that will serve me for 2 or 3 years isn`t going to motivate anyone.

The 2nd approach is to find a company that is already importing and pickyback on their orders. Same problem--not everybody wants the same seed at the same time.

People who are not avid gardeners or who buy whatever 6 pack plant is offered at their local home center, will have no idea what I am talking about, but serious gardeners look at catalogs like Southern Seed Echange that have about 100 different types of tomatoe seeds of which they recommend 14 varieties for disease resistance.

A third approach--somebody start a Nicaragua specialty seed company--same problem, the consumer class in Nic. is too small to support it.

Anyway, short term, seed saving is the best approach, including trading seed, but that will not bring ``new blood`` into the system. And amateur seed savers are not always the rocket scientists that they think they are. To insure purity in a line many plants need to be grown from 500 feet to 1 mile away from other plants with which they can cross breed, so a good strain of seed could easily drift away.

PS: if you think this country is a nuisance, I had a friend in AZ who had 14 licenses to run his nursery and lanscape business! Gotta love it. He soon retired.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

seed source

http://www.lortolano.com/doc%5CCATALOGO_ORTOLANO2011.pdf along with their Floral brand are commonly available here, with 2 big problems.

Most ag stores who carry their line only have a half dozen or so varieties, so it is slim pickings. Maybe one could get a local store to order something else from MGA,. They offer a whopping total of 1 pepper than interests me.

They have a very poor selection. For example, for Dalia they have only one choice and it is not clear if this is for standard or border plants.

If somebody is trying to select for better disease resistance, less pesticide use, or adaption to a microclimate, they are pretty much out of luck. Catalogs like this feature plants designed for growing under optimum conditions with ample sprays and irrigation.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

Seeds

I regularly trade seeds and cuttings with someone in Great Britain. Very strict rules there (and here) so we secret them in clothing or similar way. Nicaragua as tropical country I would think should be even stricter. In Florida several non-native species of plants from Asia have invaded and there does not seem to be solution. One, Kudzu is a vine that completely covers all other vegetation and grows very fast.

Seeds are so small is impossible to police unless you have ordered from a company that sells seeds and have direct shipped to Nicaragua or anywhere.

Best to ship secreted or have a friend bring them when visiting.

Almost all American weeds are introduced species

...that were potherbs, culinary herbs, dye plants, or medical herbs back in the old country. Tastes and uses changed, so they naturalized.

Phil's got bok choy naturalized on his property. Whether that's going to be invasive or not is anyone's guess. (Most plants revert to ancestoral type if not maintained, so a naturalized boy choy that becomes invasive is unlikely to look like the boy choy people eat).

I think Nicaragua does need to be strict about this.

Rebecca Brown

Boy Choy

Just to keep things clear, I have no idea when the ancestors of my bok choy entered Nicaragua but I bought the seeds in Nicaragua. In particular, at La Casita. They were seeds that they harvested -- not anything commercial at that point.

Back to the landers -- invasive culture

Are the people at La Casita Nicaraguan? If not, they're the same kind of hippie back to the landers who were the invasive culture in rural Virginia. Of course, they'd bring in potentially invasive species. They're not connected to the local land, the local food cultures, and are trying to recruit people to their disconnected and anti-ecological dream.

I hate hippies and libertarians the way Islander hates leftists., only with more irony.

Rebecca Brown

I doubt they like you...

either...

how ironic.

Hating people you have never met.

-Doug ©

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate

Contacts?

Not sure if this is at all helpful, but finding people or organizations getting seeds there, even if they do not sell them, might prove useful per contacts, etc. And, there are C.A. outfits that sell repackaged U.S.-based bulk seeds. I am unsure if using them would secure any leniency on, or avoid the whole process, since the shipping country is in the same region (this used to work in Guatemala and Honduras, but now no one seems to care so you can use any shipper). For example El Semillero (website still under construction or repair – though some customers claim they have bought stuff online from them) in San Jose Costa Rica appears to sell -among other things- repackaged bulk seeds via Bonanza Seeds via Yuba California. Though specializing in flower seeds, Ball-Horticulture Pan-Am Seeds is also in Costa Rica and some older reports showed non-flower seeding in the future, but I am not sure that has happened. There are similar outfits in Guatemala, though I admit I have not seen any yet in Honduras or Nicaragua. This might only be useful if the country of origin was specifically an issue. There are also major seed donors – and if they donate to that country, then they might be receptive to a rep in that country; an example is Sustainable Seed Company - which in the past has made huge donations to orphanages and other collective gardeners in Guatemala and El Salvador. Another route may be people (usually NGO's) working with educational programs, usually "family gardens" or "school gardens" – though it depends what seeds you want and if their donor has access to it and if a "donation" could get piggy-back access to delivery, etc. I have seen people do it this was in South America, but cannot comment on success is Central America. These are just a few school garden examples, there are likely countless others: Plenty - Belize, Seeds of Help - Guatemala, Renee's Garden - Honduras, etc. It is also possible to get more obscure seeds via native seed banks, but only of the local organization travels or has status/permits; this is common in Guatemala and El Salvador, perhaps elsewhere; here is one example, Garden's Edge . And, any outfit tied to food "sovereignty" (several in El Salvador –all favored by Funes), such as Mangrove Association - all working on improving the quality and quantity of locally grown seeds and creating food and seed banks, etc. You usually run into the same thing if in the U.S. buying from abroad, per the phytosanitary certificate - the difference being that even though the U.S. has some of the tougher such restrictions, major sellers abroad can even have the setup than allows them to handle the paperwork for a U.S. sale, etc. This topic, seeds, is hardly unique to Nicaragua; you will see countless expat and resident blogs and posts around the world on seed need - and, of course, the fine art of postal smuggling...

Thanks for being on track

This is the type of information I am looking for. For those who still don't seem to get it, I am suggesting that rather than just creating more babble that we do the following:

  1. We collect information on who is importing seeds, particularly at relatively low volumes (such as what Mike has done here)
  2. Define precisely what we want. I can do this for what I want but that is not necessarily what the rest of us want.
  3. Create a proposal that addresses what we want and how it might be implemented.
  4. Work with the government, probably starting with MAGFOR, to see if a solution can be found.

I know this sounds like a lot of work for what seems likes a small issue so let me explain my rationale. As I pointed out in my blog, what appears to be a new policy with regard to seeds is probably no more than enforcement of one of many laws on the books. Importing items has been, at least for me, one of the most irritating aspects of living here. The issue has mostly to do with the fact that there is not a well-defined solution.

From this post and my blog post, you can see that there are multiple suggestions of how to bypass the regulation. Because seeds are so small, they are perfect for the alternatives. On the other hand, allowing the import of contaminated, GMO, ... seeds could have a much larger negative impact than a few cellular phones without TELCOR approval. Thus, there is something to be gained by both sides by coming up with a solution.

Looking further ahead, if an agreement/system could be put in place that would make importation easy (and thus discourage circumvention) but maintain needed controls, then it would seem that there might then be a model which could be used for other items.

Based on empirical evidence, it seems that with most other products, control is more on the level of concern for private vs. commercial importation. For example, one disk drive was OK but two was considered commercial. Another example was when I was importing about ten 12 volt LED lights. While we won that battle we pretty much had to prove we lived off-grid and that we used 12 volt lights in the house.

I don't have a solution but I do have some ideas. While addressing the bigger picture of personal importation is what I would like to see, I feel that seeds are a great place to start. The end result could be both a model for other items and some good government contacts willing to work with us.

Fyl, I don't not get it...

I was pointing out the law.

MAGFOR Probably

doesn't have a dog in this fight, so this is a good idea. They are in the business of blessing the various seed (and how about about cuttings, bench grafts, etc) imports, and verifying that the paperwork is in place. They might be willing to come up with an expedited permitting process for small orders of conventional items. All the major seed vendors are going to have standing sanitary certificates in place. Those of the seed companies we are using could be put on file with MAGFOR.

WHEREAS, the Aduana people have probably just found new a way to legally steal stuff (the seeds, and in the case of the donated goods, some number of people probably just walk away when confronted with the customs duty, leaving the items in some lucky fellow's possession), MAGFOR is not getting anything out of this but a black eye.

I like the idea of working within the system. It shows good faith and respect, which may very well be reciprocated at some level. It would be a very good step in the right direction, and could lead to more productive relationships with the various Nica offices.

Who's going to do it?

I like it when Americans don't introduce invasive species

Do you really think that Nicaraguans who work for customs crave the sort of vegetables that American foodies want to see here? Most urban people here don't plant vegetable gardens but grow fruit and I suspect that many people in Managua don't have gardens at all, and most people who work all day don't tend to go home and plant stolen seeds, or any seeds at all.

If I were in charge of stopping seed importations of potentially invasive plants, the first people to be stopped would be invasive people who were bringing in small numbers of a wide range of things I hadn't heard of and who were living in back woods farmsteads.

If the Nicaraguans had the budget, the thing to do would be certify farmers in safe introduction practices and knowing how to deal with the first signs that a plant could naturalize here and potentially become a problem. Since I rather doubt they have the budget for that, stopping small scale exotic seed shipments would work. Anyone concerned about Nicaraguan agriculture has a dog in this fight.

Most if not all US weeds are introduced species.

Rebecca Brown

....

" Most urban people here don't plant vegetable gardens but grow fruit and I suspect that many people in Managua don't have gardens at all, and most people who work all day don't tend to go home and plant stolen seeds, or any seeds at all."

I wonder if you have ever considered that it is not a requirement of this site that users post information and opinions about topics of which they are entirely ignorant.

Here is Jinotega

It would be nice if you were more careful about that ignorance thing. I think you were also one of the people giving me bad advice on the residency application.

Rebecca Brown

Most if not all US weeds are introduced species.

This is a highly inaccurate statement. If you go to the USDA list of weeds infact 183 are native and 124 are invasive. Among those listed as invasive are Okra, Rice, Corn, Sorghum, Barley and several other common crops. So, 124 of 307 listed weeds on the USDA datbase does not qualify as "most" and it surely isn´t "all". Next time you wish to lecture people make sure you have you facts correct.

As for fyl, I think you are fighting an uphill battle to try to get the goverment to change its rules so a few ppl can bring in seeds. The head guy at Trans Express told me he could get me a permit to bring in seeds but said it would be easier and less hassle if I just put in my luggage. I personally just returned with over 15 lbs of seeds in my luggage. Your best bet is to get a few seeds of non GM and non Hybrid plants and set aside a place for your own seed production. God forbid Ms. Brown if my cherry tom´s or fyl´s bok choy run rampant and take over the Nicaraguan countryside. I bring in many seeds of varieties I can buy here. The problem I have is that the quaility of the packaged seeds here are horrible. Sorry, I´m ruining your Nicaragua.

Native to US? But where? And where introduced?

The Purple Finch is native to the Western US, but is invasive in the East.

"These plants are weedy or invasive, or have the potential to become weedy or invasive, in all or part of their U.S. range. We assembled this list verbatim from sources around the country to provide a comprehensive look at potential problem plants in the U.S. Most are introduced to the United States, but some are harmful pests in parts of this country, and valuable natives in others."

From http://plants.usda.gov/java/noxiousDriver#federal See the "most" there.

http://plants.usda.gov/java/noxious?rptType=Federal for the list. Most of them have I (for introduced) in the status column (in parenthesis). Sure you read the chart correctly? Or did you read another chart? I'm counting four natives from the Lower 48 on that list, a couple more that are native to Puerto Rica or the Virgin Islands (and which would be in a completely different eco system in Florida or Texas or California, or low frost areas of the US South).

If there's another chart that the USDA puts out, I'd appreciate the URL to that one, but this is what the USDA gives as the Federal Noxious Weeds list.

The answer to problem seeds is here breeding your own vegetable varieties. There's a good book for that: Carol Deppe's Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties.

Rebecca Brown

Thanks for being totally off topic

To the best of my knowledge, there has not been any "that is not an appropriate species" issue here. I also have no problem if there was some control. The issue is simply that the way the law is implemented, it is not practical for small importers.

If Nicaragua elects to only allow five corn species, ... that is its choice and I can accept that.

Um, corn is one species unless you're using English useage

...and not American. There are something like 80 varieties of Zea maize in Jinotega Department alone. The country also has a stand of the original plant that was domesticated into maize. Maize is the least possible plant ever to be invasive since its seed distribution is completely up the man (interesting mutation that caused it). Area of domestication is presumed to be Mexico, but given that Nicaragua has a stand of the original plant, possibly here also.

Using corn in the English sense for any grain, it's obviously possible to plant anything you can buy whole in the market -- and rice is a common crop in the country, so someone has seeds of that. I've seen barley, milo, wheat, rice, and maize commonly. Oats only the in form of oatmeal.

Small importers are much more likely to bring in something exotic. Some of those things could be useful and some could be invasive. Why cater to them?

If you want to purchase seed legally, jump through the hoops, or form a cooperative to import them.

I thought Key West Pirate was the most egregiously off-topic with his rant about Aduana stealing the seeds.

Southern Exposure warns that countries may not let seeds in and says you're importing them at your own risk. I suspect they'd know how that works.

Rebecca Brown

...

A friend's father was a government botanist. He lectured his children about not bringing plant life home from another country, "not even a leaf". I tend to think small quantities of insect free, disease free, bare seed is the least of the problems. Live plants can bring insects, fungi, and soil borne diseases. There's a reason the customs form on the airplane asks if you have been to a farm or will be going to one in the next two weeks.

I would expect imported seed, without the proper accompanying documents, to be immediately destroyed, not "confiscated". Kudos to Nicaragua on this one. Yes, it's an inconvenience but try driving through the Canada/US border en route to Florida with oranges in the car.

Each country or state

sets its limits based on threats to agriculture and the general public. In the PRK its even gotten to county by county, but when you consider all the agriculture there that starts to make sence. But there are different ways to place limits. Some entities have a list of prohibited species and everything else is unrestricted. Some prohibit everything, probably for the convenience of the beauracracy or the whim of whoever is in charge.

Needless to say, just prohibiting the know problems is better for the public and better for the economy.

I could well see Nic. restrict corn, bean, ayote, and other seeds to protect from plagues. But garden flower seeds form companies that are inspected by their state Ag Dept.?

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

PRK Is

People's Republic of Kalifornia ?

It took me a while for that one, getting old . . .

Ir`s more PC

than the other names!

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

that depends on the plant

Considering they're not a rich country, they may think it's better to restrict everything than chase a problem after the fact. Opium poppies are garden flowers...

Poor country people

can read off a list of names in alphabetical order just like everybody else. They just chose a complete ban, just like years ago they chose a ban on importing cars more than 5 years old which gave a great boost to the new car dealers ( and then the law was was eventually changed).

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

Sure

How long a list? It seems we've both used those seed catalogs with 100 varieties of tomatoes. But I bet they're more concerned about modern plants crossbreeding with their native ancestors.

I'm Famous For

my one sentence "rants". "Keep It Pithy" as Bill O'Reilly always says.

We just had an anecdote from a poster who shipped $20 worth, was charged $60 duty, and abandoned the package. Until the word gets out, this is going to be a bonanza for a few lucky Sandinistas.

Do you really believe the Aduana people are destroying these shipments? If so, please check out the post about my CUCU denominated coffee bonds and subscribe quickly, before they are all gone.

I can keep it way pithier

I'd believe Aduana was stealing the seeds if someone was going around offering gringos these seed packets at a discount.

Rebecca Brown

I always wondered

Where the cheap US merchadise at mercado oriental came from.

The last time I bought something online/pos office the taxes were 15% iva plus about 15% other taxes. I had no beef with that as I know 3rd world countries traditionally get much of their taxes from import duties because its easier than squeezing money out of its people. It was the stuff missing from tyhe package that made me mad.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

Surely it IS the topic....ergo not off topic at all

Its why the restrictions you have a problem with exist in the first place...isn't it?

Oh but Rebecca....

How are "These People" going to progress with an attitude like that?

The gun restriction will be next, how dare they tell us how many guns we can bring in.

And that duty free amount has to go, way to restrictive.

I notice that what some people like to do is pick their pet peeve, map out a big plan for change and then when they start their research, they find that a lot of the perceived problem have been addressed.

Like did they find this link, I don't know.

http://translate.google.ca/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.tramitesni...

The bottom line is usually the unfair way the acts and sections are applied...not the acts and sections themselves.

MAGFOR does the

MAGFOR does the confiscation/destruction, not DGI/aduanas. The problem I have is even if you think you have all the paperwork in order, when you are standing there in the customs warehouse with your paperwork, and they arbitrarily decide it is insufficient, they DON'T give you the option to get them the correct paperwork, they just confiscate/destroy the seed. Better luck next time sucker! That's why I won't be declaring any seed anytime soon.

Back On Track

How do we proceed?

Some posters might make fun of the back to the land component, but growing our own food is one reason many of us are here in Nicaragua. And gardening? My wife works a full day and still enjoys daily time in her garden. We eat the produce daily. A small garden would improve the diet of many a campesino family. Perhaps they just can't get the seeds?

I imagine that most people are importing vegetable and flower seeds, not Kudzu vines. BillyBob might try to bring in the occasional exotic succulent; the rest of us just want our favorite tomatoes, sweet corn, and melons, -and some flowers.

Is there really a possibility that Bok Choy is going to take over the countryside, replacing those weeds that Nicaraguans call pasture? Got to make for a better quality meat :)

Have you ever actually LOOKED at campesino houses?

They all have a banana patch and judging from the not very well sited banana clump in my backyard, bananas produce several times a year (one stalk completed just as another bloom began developing small bananas). They've got beans and tomatoes growing, malaga, yuca, corn patches.

Most people on the land here grow food all year round and they grow crops that have been selected for low input performance over the centuries. Jinotega Department has around 60 varieties of both corn and beans and gets three corn crops a year and four bean crops a year. They've got native strains of tomatoes, chiles, chiltomas, squashes, papayas, flowers, etc.

Cattle don't tend to eat mustards, neither do a lot of pest insects, which is why bok choy is a nice crop and a potential problem if it's reverts to ancestral types.

This is Nicaragua. Learn to like what is grown here.

What would improve the diet of campesino families would be giving them their own land to grow their traditional crops on and having some way for them to make cash money from something that paid better than cutting coffee so they could buy food in bad harvest years.

The plots around the houses in Miraflor probably have two or three acres total in various food plants -- bananas, beans, potatoes, corn, yuca, other fruit trees. These are people who are growing coffee for their cash crop. One of the signs of a house while driving through the country is the banana patch.

If I want zinnias (two or three flushes of flowers a year, pretty much year round bloom), I'll pull seeds off the ones growing in back. If I want orchids, I'll go up hill from here and try to find things that work for here. Or buy them from local plant sellers. Roses? No problem -- a cutting from the back or buy them from the folks who sell varieties adapted to this climate. Mexican prickly poppies -- don't think I want those. Tomatoes -- I find the little ones here quite tasty either for eating or for cooking into paste. Probably overpaid for limes/lemons today from the little vendor -- 30 cordobas for ten, but she's handy even if she cheats and it was raining so I wasn't going to walk to the market. One of my friends gave me a mango and the ones on the back yard trees are coming in, guavas after that.

Watermelons (sandia) come in once a year around here -- think it's the end of the dry season. I'm pretty sure I've had other melons here, and there's the little fruit that's the size and shape of a Seckel pear that tastes like rose water, with an edible skin. Pachita had some fuzzy orange fruit that she said make for good frescos in her patio.

What people who've studied traditional diets have often found is that they were quite healthy if people got enough calories and sufficient variety. Folks who are eating fresh fruit and rice and beans, tortillas from calcium chloride treated corn, eggs, cheese, plus some cabbage slaw and dollops of various sauces and relishes are probably getting enough nutrients if they're getting enough calories. Avocados turn out to be very good for people, even has protein. Parsley is extremely high in iron and other minerals associated with greens and the iron is more available than the iron in spinach. Cabbage is high nutrient, including vitamin C if raw. Add some meat from time to time, especially organ meat, and things are fine.

Tofu appears to be not as good for people as claimed: http://www.utne.com/2007-07-01/Science-Technology/The-Dark-Side-of-Soy.a... The problems predate GMO seeds, too.

People do seem to be able to get sweet corn seeds here. You have to grow it at least half a mile from other corn varieties to get it to grown true from seed.

A friend of mine who lived in Seattle thought she wanted to go and live on the land. Being a really practical woman, she went for an agricultural major at the University of Idaho and decided she would prefer doing something else.

Rebecca Brown

Have. .. you LOOKED .. campesino houses?

Yeah, I lived in one for two weeks, dirt floor and all. My "Live Like A Nica" experience, and believe me, it's NOT what it's cracked up to be, especially that bathing out of a 5 gallon bucket part. That place was lacking ALL FOUR of the pillars of civilization, including the flush toilet. I never did get used to the flies and bees buzzing about my bare butt.

Ice was only 7 Km away but the road was so bad it took 45 minutes to get there.

. Beans & rice 3 X daily, and a corn tortilla (which I ground the corn for every morning), plus the occasional egg or a small chunk of chicken. Almost nothing in the way of fruits and veggies, which really surprised me. I don't remember any avocados, cabbage (much less slaw), certainly no parsley. This was not an upscale crowd like you find in Jinotega, these people didn't even have electricity.

The family had a large lot, and plenty of room to grow a garden. Shelley's is only 10 x 15 and we get a lot of stuff out of it daily.

I think we might be going off- thread again.

Victims of what?

A law designed to protect a country from potentially unwelcome plants.

The law and the way to comply with it is all there. You just have to follow it...Like we all have to do when we pass through the United States with a cheese sandwich.

"What I don't want to have to do is fill out endless paperwork, make trips to Managua and such"...No, who would...but the United States and many other countries ask you to do that for lot of things...like obtaining a visa to visit and spend a lot of money in those countries.

The seed issue was probably overlooked until some gringo decided he was going to do it his way and kick the ass out of it with more than a few packets of green beans...maybe he or she was the sort that wrote "Library Donation San Juan del Sur" all over the boxes so that it would get overlooked as a donation.

If we all want Nicaragua to progress, then these are the sorts of things that will happen as they become more advanced at checking people and things in and out of the country in the same way as they are checked in and out of ours.

Makes sense to me

So you follow the local country's rules to the letter, be patient and polite and it eventually works out.

Perhaps the seed issue was overlooked until we starting discussing it on a public website...

Another thing I learned just now was that ONLY Nicaraguans and back-to-the-land types, without full-time jobs, can plant gardens. That's some heavy duty stereotyping.

What I see people growing in town are fruit trees

...which produce more calories and food per effort expended than vegetable gardens. My next door neighbors grow their food crops on the finca.

There was some scam by some people to teach Nicaraguans Square Food Gardening over two years ago and a recent effort to teach Managuans how to do vegetable gardens. Urban Nicaraguans do garden, just not vegetables around the house (couple of reasons for this).

The country yards tend to be bare, the banana patch a bit off from the house (maybe ten or twenty feet, beans, malaga, and other crops a bit further than the banana patch. The land grows food for the families and I doubt seriously they're terribly sentimental about it.

I've seen more backyard vegetable gardens in Annandale than here, and I didn't see many of those there (two income families with kids don't tend to have the time anywhere; in Annandale, they hired landscapers to maintain their properties). There are people growing crops in walking distance or short bus rides from Jinotega and they sell the produce at the front door along with the vendors who are selling things they bought from repackagers. Or people have a bit of land in the country (I know several people who have small to medium sized farms out of town).

In East Falls, where I was one of the community gardeners, the people who were long term working class East Falls people hated the gardeners with a passion as they were the invaders who'd ruined the neighborhood, apparently. We had people actively working to shut us down because we were growing tacky things like corn and beans in sight of passing trains (guilty as charged, I lived on my beans during one August but the corn didn't make much).

Me, if I get the place up by the river and know I'll be in it a while, I'll be planting hummingbird attractors and fruit trees, maybe some local chilies. Actually growing vegetables in the tropics is a race with the bugs and the diseases and the kids who hop over the fences.

Rebecca Brown

You've told us many times

You've told us many times about seeing fruit trees and a lack of vegetable gardens, but that doesn't give us an explanation. For all we know, it's just a long time problem getting and keeping seed, whether you're a local or an expat.

Back To The Landers

really don't plant gardens as you know them in Canada, but "introduce invasive species" of tomatoes, corn, carrots, and that really insidious one, Bok Choy.

News to me also

I learned just now that I hate leftists.

ley 291 is on the web

Usual government authorizations, including control over imports and plant quarantine, including seeds.

I agree with your original comments that the rules are for big impòrters but they also apply to liitle importers for whom the paperwork and expense MAY be too much. My interest is maybe as low as 5 or 6 retail packs of seeds per year, but specialized varieties of my selection. If its a matter of filling out a couple forms and spending a little postage, it`s doable. If it involves standing in long lines talking to people who have no idea what I am talking about, or trips to Managua, it`s not doable.

Part of my strategy for peppers and tomatoes was to select and save seed to try to develop locally productive cultivars BUT to also plant some new seed each year to monitor the saved seed and to hedge against ``crop failure``

If anybody jumps thru the hoops on an individual level, please post. I still think the best way to work thru the system would be to find some seed importer and piggy back on his imports.

I noticed that on seed packages that the country of origin is printed. I wonder if that will satisfy the statement of origin requirement. My suspicion is we would have to go thru the familiar time consuming drill of typing up a statement and having it notorized. Seems the phitosanitary cert should do it all, but you don`t know until you try.

Incidently, I going to take some seeds the other way next trip. The uS Customs and fatherland security website has a form for taking small quantities of seeds into the states legally. they must be clean, labeled with scientific name, and OK vis-a-vis CITES.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

Seeds and regulations

I have read some of these posts and scanned others. I don't live there at this time. As just a side note, in Uruguay, all you have to do is order from a seed company and they get mailed and received without a problem, not that they don't make life hell for other things.

It seems to me there are just a handful of people making regulations for EVERYONE about everything and anything. This applies to all countries. That handful of people lords over everyone. The majority of the populations have been conditioned to accepting the ruling of a few over the many. The intentions, at first, start out to be a good ones, but it seldom ends up being the best for everyone concerned Governments always abuse their powers. I do understand diseases can be spread via insects, animals, plants.

Here's something to consider. God created the earth for man and everything in and on it for man's benefit (including all the herbs we could possibly need to help ourselves with pain relief and cures). I think he knew exactly what he was doing. He never makes mistakes. Some government body decided that wasn't the way it should be and restricted access to what we were given. I never used to think this way, but over the past two-three years, I have done a bunch of reading and see how insane the entire thing has become.

I think people should be able to have what they want, make their own decisions, and not force their choices on others or harm others. We have the ten commandments. I think that should cover right and wrong. So much for my thoughts on regulations. I personally think working to encourage regulations to be removed and the free markets and freedom of choices should be restored. I don't think it is my place to tell someone else what they should grow or have, nor do I want someone else to tell me.