Foods Resource Bank Blog

Life-Changing Ag Training

When Thoeun decided to take advantage of an opportunity to receive training on environmentally-friendly agriculture and raising animals organized by the Cambodia South program, she had no idea how much her life would change for the better. She was an ordinary Cambodian farmer who relied on growing rice to feed her family while her husband migrated to the city to work in the construction sector. Like many other families, theirs didn’t earn enough to support themselves. Her children did not go to school regularly because they were busy looking for crabs and snails in the fields to supplement their limited diet.

Determined to learn what she could, she took the instruction seriously.  She immediately began growing vegetables, using natural fertilizers, and raising a few chickens. She worked so hard that she was selected to become a “multi-purpose farmer.”  This meant receiving extra support and training so she could test new crops, varieties, and production-management techniques, then share what she learned with her neighbors. She put into practice whatever she learned, expanded her vegetable plot, and increased the number of chickens she raised. Now she not only produces enough to meet her family’s needs, but has extra to sell.

Because of her success, her husband was able to quit his job in the city and now helps her with the farm work. Her children are going to school regularly and no longer need to forage for food. Thoeun shows a high level of commitment to working hard on her farm and to teaching others in her community so that they, too, can not only grow enough to become food secure, but to thrive.

Caption: Thoeun on her multi-purpose farm plot

Cambodia South Program
Led by World Renew

09/13/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Transforming Challenges into Opportunities

“Being members of a farmers’ group and saving money with them has transformed my family’s challenges into opportunities,” says Ouga, an elderly farmer who participates in the Uganda Teso program.

Ouga and his wife, Janet, have ten children. They joined a farmers’ group in 2016 to receive training on a variety of sustainable agricultural practices. As their tomatoes, maize and cassava started yielding more, they began saving money with other members through the group’s Village Savings and Lending Association.

“In the first year, we just saved a little money. What opened our eyes was that the members who had saved more received a substantial amount of money as a dividend at the end of the cycle! In fact, they were even able to buy cattle!”

Seeing their fellow farmers’ success triggered Ouga and Janet’s desire to put away more money. At the end of the second-year payout cycle, Ouga’s family received enough to buy a bull for plowing.

“That same year, we got a loan from the group and purchased doors and windows for the house we were constructing as a family,” Ouga said. “We are also now able to pay school fees and cover other expenses. For so many years – even into my old age – I have struggled to provide for my family, with little and sometimes no success. Now I realize it was mainly because of my ignorance and sticking to traditional thinking and practices,” he says.

Caption: Janet and Ouga harvesting cassava

Uganda Teso Program
Led by World Renew and local partner PAG KIDO

08/28/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Self-Sufficiency Success

Wilfredo is experiencing success! He is a farmer who is using a variety of agricultural methods designed to overcome the challenges of drought, hail, and the freezing temperatures of the Peruvian Andes.  He says, “I like the whole process of growing vegetables. There’s always enough for my daughters to eat. What I sell most is lettuce and sweet peppers, not only here locally but also in town.”

Farm families in the program’s eight communities are growing greater quantities and varieties of vegetables, with enough left over to sell and earn an income. They are also improving their overall health by focusing on water sanitation, home and personal hygiene, and learning to prepare delicious and nutritious meals. Encouragingly, the previous phase of the program saw a significant reduction in child malnutrition. Children are eating a wider selection of healthy food, and their bodies are able to process nutrients more efficiently because their parents’ water sanitation efforts resulted in a decrease in water-borne diseases and parasites.

Luz, who owns some cows, says, “I’m learning how to make yogurt!  My children like it a lot. I’m planning on getting more cows so I can make enough yogurt to sell.”

The aim of the program is for participants to become self-sufficient. Janet says, “We are happy because we receive information on expenses – what happens with the money CEDINCO gets from the program.  We know that it doesn’t cover everything we do here, and we agree that we need to do our part and put in some money on our own.”

Caption: A cooking demonstration covers foods that reverse anemia

Peru Castrovirreyna Program
Led by Lutheran World Relief and Local Partner CEDINCO

07/18/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Villagers’ Own Financial Institution Empowers Small Business Owners

How did Mrs. Kache get to be known as “The business lady from Kadongoleni Village?” She tells her story:

“I am very grateful for all the help I’ve received in unleashing my potential. When our village started its own finance association two years ago, I joined so I could start saving money to assist my husband with household expenses. He is a farmer, and also works as a day laborer on other people’s farms. Money is tight.  We have two children in secondary school and four in primary, and even with support from the government we couldn’t make ends meet.

“I decided to open a small bakery business. With my first loan, I bought the equipment I needed to make buns and sell them from my home.  When I started receiving orders from two hotels in Garashi Centre, the nearby city, I realized I had a full-fledged business. This allowed me to repay my loan very quickly.

“I took out another loan to grow the business by providing other items like salt, tea, coconut, and sometimes flour in addition to the buns I sold from home. Since then, I have been able to pay for my children’s secondary school education and cover other basic needs at home. My hope now is to borrow enough to build a kiosk to sell buns at the Garashi Trading Centre. That market is much larger than the one in my village.”

Caption: Mrs. Kache (in doorway) and her home bakery and grocery business

Kenya Magarini Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner ADS Pwani

07/09/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

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 95 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

Encouraging and Empowering Farmers

Several farmers participating in the Zambia Northwest program recently stepped forward to share their results:

John: “My standard of living has improved since I’ve been applying the conservation farming methods I’ve learned. This means my wife and I can put more food on the table for our six children than ever before, and I’m able to pay school fees for all of them.”

Obieness: “My life has changed for the better since I started getting conservation agriculture training.  I’m a widow with seven children, and life has been a challenge for me. But after learning more appropriate ways to farm, I’m expecting good yields on my maize and groundnuts (peanuts) this year. For the first time in my life, my community respects me as a responsible and caring parent because I am able to provide for my family.  What a proud mother I am!”

Simeon: “This empowerment program has made me appreciate farming so much more, thanks to everything I’ve learned about conservation agriculture.  Through mulching and using environmentally friendly ways to manage pests, I’ve harvested more.  My successes gave me the confidence to enlarge my maize field, and I even added a new field of cassava. Because we have more to eat and I can make money from selling our excess, I feel like a person who has found a lucrative new job.”

Clara: “As a widow taking care of six orphans in addition to my son, I’m amazed and proud that I am standing on my own two feet where farming is concerned. I am thankful for all the farming instruction and support I’ve received from the staff. I’ve learned how to fertilize my fields with manure tea (liquid manure) and improved my yields of maize and groundnuts with a number of other practices that were new to me. The NCM team has visited me on many occasions to encourage me and suggest corrections when things weren’t going as planned. My yields improved and allowed me to make more money from selling what we didn’t need to eat just as I had to pay for an operation for my son.” 

Caption: Preparing fields

Zambia Northwest Program
Led by Nazarene Compassionate Ministries

06/07/2018 | 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 Lissett.

Caption: Lissett 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