income

Mushroom Growing Produces A Reliable Cash Flow

Kunthea says, “My husband and I decided to invest in a mushroom grow house after seeing how my aunt’s family situation improved when she started growing mushrooms. We own a little over an acre of land, and rent 2.5 more. We farm rice during the rainy season, and after harvest, I grow mung beans. Even though my husband worked as a waiter during the wedding season, we never seemed to have enough money. I would have to take out a loan to buy seed, and sometimes even had to sell our rice so we could buy other foods we needed.  Now that we are growing mushrooms, our situation is improving.  My husband is spending more time helping with the business, and we plan to add a second grow house soon.”

World Hope International promotes mushroom growing as a way for smallholder farmers, particularly women, to break the cycle of poverty. The program launched a business called Thera Metrey (“Compassionate Earth”) to sort and market the fungi in the capital city, Phnom Penh. Families are earning enough money so that, in many cases, the men no longer have to migrate for work or hold multiple jobs.

Another farmer, Chheat, speaks for other mushroom farmers when he says, “We are happy about the way this mushroom project is developing our community. We don’t need to leave to work far from home now, and because of Thera Metrey, we don’t have to worry about finding a market for our mushrooms.”

Caption: Kunthea and family in front of their mushroom grow house

Cambodia East Program
Led by World Hope International

 

06/18/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Keeping Track of Expenses Leads to Profits

Dimnoré is finally getting ahead, thanks to putting into practice what she learned from the program about “SMART” marketing goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based). It was only when she learned how to keep track of her small business expenses that she realized she’d doing a great deal of work for not much profit, and how to do better.

Dimnoré belongs to a Savings and Internal Lending group.  She took out a small loan to buy néré tree seeds to start making and selling soumbala (a fermented, protein-rich condiment, sold in balls or patties and used in a variety of dishes across Africa). Her original goal was at least to repay what she’d borrowed, plus interest. With her loan of $45 she grossed $54, and felt she’d gained, but when she learned how to subtract expenses, she was shocked that she’d netted only ninety-five cents. Or, as she put it, “I realized I was gaining nothing but suffering from all my work.”

Since then, she keeps track of all her costs, and is always finding ways cut down on cash outlays.  For instance, instead of spending money on public transportation and the day’s food to buy bags of seed at the city market, she asks a friend who is going anyway to get them for her. With her newfound earnings she’s been able to pay off her loan and has bought sheep to fatten for sale. She feels she’s becoming a SMART business woman, indeed!

Caption: Fattening sheep for resale

Burkina Faso Namentenga Program
Led by Catholic Relief Services

06/13/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Community Greenhouses are Improving Lives

Juana is a member of a women’s collective greenhouse in her Guatemalan community. But long before she joined the program and began receiving instruction from local partner CIEDEG, she was watching and learning. She is a great example of how our food security programs reach “secondary beneficiaries” – those who are not officially registered, but whose lives improve just by taking note of what their neighbors are doing to grow more nutritious food.

Juana carefully observed how the greenhouses were constructed and saw the ways in which women began to grow a wider variety of foods both under cover and outdoors. She and her husband used their own savings to purchase a sheet of plastic in Guatemala City, and built a smaller version of the community greenhouses right next to their house. She bought some tomato seedlings and started other vegetables from seed in a small area of her greenhouse reserved as a nursery.

Now, in addition to the tender vegetables she grows indoors, Juana is also producing cool-weather veggies on her land, including carrots, broccoli, onion and celery. She was happy to be invited to join the community greenhouse collective as well to take advantage of the opportunity to grow even more food and market some of it along with the women in her collective.

CIEDEG encourages secondary beneficiaries like Juana to participate. It is the organization’s goal to expand access to a variety of healthy foods across the Nebaj area of Guatemala, and to empower families to stay intact by finding ways to earn incomes and flourish in their own villages.  Juana’s enthusiasm, willingness to innovate and success are inspiring others to try their hand at greenhouse production.

Caption: Juana in her greenhouse
Photo credit: Bethany Beachum


Guatemala Nebaj Quetzaltenango 
Led by Church World Service and Local Partner CIEDEG

06/11/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Diversification: Drought Insurance

Lissett says her diversified vegetable garden makes her feel stronger and more able to cope with crises. “We had a drought two years ago that affected all of us a lot. It made us poorer, but it also made us more intentional about growing more foods besides corn and beans, and finding other ways to make money.”

Her family had had financial challenges when she was growing up, so she was glad to join the program and improve her agricultural skills as a way to generate additional income. She’s been putting into practice the soil conservation techniques she’s learned from local partner CIEETS, and has built a water reservoir for irrigating her plants. “The training we receive helps us understand better how plants, soil and water all work together as part of one system.”

The drought made her get serious about planting a wider variety of fruits and vegetables to reduce the likelihood that she would lose everything if it happens again. She is now growing various citrus and other fruits, quiquisque (a starchy corm similar to taro root), banana, guava, yuca (cassava), sweet pepper and papaya. She’s also raising chickens. As she puts it, “My diversified plot ensures that I’ll have food to feed my family, and even have some surplus to sell at the market.”

In addition to diversifying her crops, Lissett also manages a rain gauge to inform her and her community when there is sufficient moisture to plant crops.

“My community and I thank all the people who collaborate with us to improve our situation. Rest assured that we are taking advantage of these resources that come to us through CIEETS,” says Lisette.

Caption: Lissette with rain gauge and records

Nicaragua Mateare Carazo Program
Led by Church World Service and Local Partner CIEETS

 

06/04/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty with Savings

Dorcas, a farmer who participates in one of the program’s Village Savings and Lending Associations (VSLA), can hardly contain her excitement about the improvements program activities have made in her life.  “Before this I only grew crops, and did not have any other sources of income or protein. Look! I now have chickens running around in my compound, and they give me eggs and meat.  I am also selling them in the market and making some cash. For a 4-month-old chicken I’ve raised I can earn up to ten times what I paid for the chick.” 

All of the farmers involved in these VSLAs are like Dorcas – they have limited sources of income and have always relied mainly on rain-fed agriculture to feed their families. After the staff of local partner ADS-Mt. Kenya East convinced Dorcas and the other farmers of the importance of saving money together, they began meeting regularly to encourage each other to save and to share learning and experiences. They also received training on group leadership, managing loans, and establishing by-laws to ensure that all members respect the rules of the group.

Periodically, group members take out loans from the pooled savings, and pay them back with modest interest. Annual payouts from the collective savings can be heady experiences: many members are astonished to learn they have saved a substantial amount for the first time in their lives. Most use their loans to purchase farm inputs, pay their children’s school fees, and diversify their farm activities, and now see a way out of poverty.

Dorcas says, “I am definitely happy to be a member of my VSLA.’’

Caption: Dorcas feeds some of her chickens

Kenya Tigania
Led by World Renew and Local Partner

05/31/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Fertile Soil, Higher Profits with Conservation Agriculture

Even though she’s started improving her yields with conservation agriculture (CA), Specioza’s piece of land is too small to sustain her family, so she rents an additional plot. She says, “Even so, I still ended up with losses because the soil was exhausted, and our once-predictable climate has changed, making it hard to know what to plant when.”

Local partner PAG encouraged her to try a number of CA techniques aimed at replenishing the soil, like mulching and fertilizing with manure “tea” (liquid manure). During her training, she planted some climbing beans using traditional practices, and used CA on another plot, just to see the results from each.  She was astonished at the huge difference in quality and yield, and declares, “I will not stop practicing conservation agriculture now. After applying all this new knowledge both on my land and the rented land, the soil has started to regain its fertility and now I am making some profits.”

When one of her neighbors realized that the rented field had regained fertility and that Specioza was earning more profits, he thought he would take advantage of her hard work. He went to the land owner and tried to rent the plot at a higher price. Specioza was quite worried, but then gratified by the land owner’s generous reply:  “My land used to be worn out and exhausted, but now it has regained fertility because of Specioza. She is deserves to remain on it, since she takes such good care of it.”

Caption: Specioza’s climbing bean crop in a plot under conservation agriculture

Uganda Kabale Program
Led by World Renew with Local Partner PAG

05/29/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Proud to be a Farmer

Rajib, a young farmer in Bangladesh, says, “I used to think that only poor people became farmers, but now I see agriculture as a noble profession. It is a source of income, nutrition, and food security. I’m proud to be a farmer.”

Until the program’s local partner SATHI offered agricultural training to this subsistence farmer, he’d been using techniques he’d learned as a child. When his father died, he’d had to quit school and take over the responsibility of their family farm. Because his father grew only rice, that’s what Rajib did as well. But, he said, “SATHI taught me rice alone cannot meet all the nutritional needs of our body.”

He joined a farmers group and learned about growing vegetables in kitchen gardens, fertilizing with organic compost, and managing pests with environmentally-friendly farming methods. The farmers group also functioned as a savings and lending group, and Rajib began saving regularly.  He was able to take a small loan from the group to buy a variety of seeds. SATHI staff and other skilled farmers were there to support and guide him in his new venture. He was amazed at the quantity and quality of all he was able to harvest -- spinach, red amaranth, long bean, eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, cucumber, tomato and sweet gourd. More than enough to feed his family and earn a small income.
 
Encouraged by his success, Rajib recently took a poultry-rearing workshop from SATHI which motivated him to purchase 10 chickens. He is now waiting for them to lay eggs and supply meat for his family.

Caption: Red amaranth growing in Rajib’s kitchen garden

Bangladesh Kendua Programs
Led by World Renew and Local Partner SATHI

Photo and storyline credit: Lipy Dhoni

05/24/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

My family now knows happiness

"My name is Hélène. Thanks to this program, my family knows happiness.  I’ve received training on farming practices and leadership that has helped me in my home life, in groups, and in my field work. I now help my husband with some of the expenses for our 15-member household, so there are no more fights.

"This season, in spite of the failing rainfall, I have hope for a good harvest. I got training on a conservation agriculture technique called intercropping, and then received some improved sorghum and bean seeds. I’ve planted them together in a half-acre field. I’m happy in the field because both crops have survived periods of drought and are developing well.

"In the dry 'off' season I keep a vegetable garden. It invigorates me to have work to do during this otherwise difficult time. Having cabbage, tomato, eggplant and onions available right here has helped me feed my family during times when we used to have less food. I put all these vegetables in my sauces, which taste great and are loaded with nutrients. I also sell what we don’t need to eat, and that’s allowed me to buy clothes for the children, dishes, soap and more. I was even able to send some money to my mother.

"With all these advantages we’ve received from those who support and encourage us, all I can say is, '“Thank you.'"

Caption: Hélène in her field intercropped with sorghum and beans

Burkina Faso Central
Led by Mennonite Central Committee and Local Partner Office de Développement des Eglises Evangéliques (ODE)

05/22/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Village Savings and Loan Group Turns James’s Life Around

James, a farmer and the director of the school in his village, says that the ag training and support he has received from the program changed his family’s story from one of desperation to hope. Trained in information technology, he found it very difficult to earn enough money in the city to support his wife and three girls. He took a big risk by moving back to his village to take up farming. His first exposure to what the program had to offer was joining fellow farmers in starting a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA). “This,” he says, “was the beginning of the turnaround for my family.”

James and his group received training in conservation agriculture techniques, growing vegetables, and Farming as a Family Business. This year, he and his family planted one acre of groundnuts (peanuts) to sell, and two acres of cassava to eat. What they earned from the groundnuts allowed them to buy a cow, and the milk adds protein to their diet. With their VSLA savings they bought five bags of cement and built another room onto their home. “I plan to borrow money from the VSLA to complete the work,” says James.

James’s story is representative of the general success of the program in his village. His VSLA is doing so well that it made a contribution to the school he was instrumental in starting. James was able to buy a blackboard, chalk and textbooks and even pay the teachers with the funds.

Caption: Village schoolchildren benefited from a donation by James’s savings group

Uganda Teso Program
Led by World Renew and local partner PAG-KIDO
96 communities, 11,624 households, and 51,944 individuals

05/16/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

A New Lease on Life

"My name is Rekha.  I am thankful and happy that my children are well-fed and healthy and that I have a steady income, but this wasn’t always the case.

My husband and I used to have a small home near the road in our village, but we were forced to leave it because of road expansion.  We moved to a different village, but because we didn’t own land, we built a small place on public land. Soon afterward, my husband left for India to look for work.

The big problems started when we lost everything during a major windstorm that destroyed our home. When my son got sick, we didn’t have money for his treatment. I borrowed some from a moneylender, and had to borrow even more to continue caring for him. I started sharecropping and growing rice, but I was all on my own and extremely worried about how I would pay back the loan.

That’s when the staff of [local partner] BICWS stepped in. They encouraged me to join a farmers group, and I leased a small plot of land for growing vegetables. I began to attend classes on vegetable farming, ways to protect my plants from pests, and making compost fertilizer to enrich the soil and improve the nutritional quality and taste of the food. My children and I not only eat fresh vegetables every day, we also sell some at the local market. In one season I earned enough to pay off the medical loan.  In the future I hope to earn enough to purchase my own land.  Once again, I am grateful from my heart to the program for the support and knowledge I’ve gained."

Rekha, particpant Napal Bhatigachh program, Nepal

Caption: Rekha and 3 of her 4 children

Nepal Bhatigachh Program    
Led by Mennonite Central Committee and Local Partner BICWS

05/10/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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