training

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

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

Raising Chickens Brings Gender Equality

When Agnes’s children need school supplies or tuition is due, finding the money to pay for them is no longer an issue. She has plenty of eggs and chickens to sell thanks to training she received in caring for poultry, as a member of a Self-Help Group (SHG) supported by the Kenya West Pokot program. The hens and eggs bring in a good income in addition to adding protein to meals.

Agnes is not the only woman who is making a valuable contribution to her family’s income. Thanks to local partner Jitokeze’s training and encouragement, SHG members are bringing about gender equity. Pokot men herd cows and goats and have traditionally been seen as the providers, while women do the lion’s share of caring for the family and home. Women might keep a few chickens but didn’t recognize their potential. As the women started earning money from their poultry, they started gaining their husbands’ respect and are now being treated more as equals.  In fact, now that the men have realized the value that the women are bringing to the community, they are supporting the women’s efforts by taking a more active role in the family. One day a week, the men take over household responsibilities like childcare and cooking so their wives can meet with their SHGs to share their experiences or receive additional training.  This was once unheard of in their culture, since men don’t normally help with chores at all, and shows how much they appreciate the women’s contributions.

Agnes is so dedicated to putting what she learns into practice that she now has 60 mature birds and 40 chicks. A big breakthrough in her production levels came when Jitokeze helped her construct an energy-efficient stove with a “chepkube brooder” below.  The warmth of the stove makes for a cozy incubator and protects chicks from the cold and from predators.

Caption: Agnes incubates chicks in a warm compartment under her energy-efficient stove

Kenya West Pokot Program
Led by Evangelical Covenant Church/Covenant World Relief and Local Partner Jitokeze Wamama Wafrika
22 communities, 440 households, and 2,640 individuals

05/07/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Improved Farming Knowledge, Improved Income

Since Theresia began receiving training and support from the Kenya Kathonzweni program and experiencing success in her pasture farming, she foresees a bright future for herself and her family. She says, “This season I have put three more acres into pasture. I’m getting much better returns than ever before.”

Theresia is a small-scale pasture farmer who, like others in the area, used to sell her hay directly to local livestock farmers at low prices. She signed up with the program because she wanted to improve her knowledge and skills and find ways to market hay more effectively.  At the program’s Farmer Field School, which focuses on training farmers in sustainable Conservation Agriculture practices, she says she “learned by doing, and from demonstrations,” how to establish and manage a pasture and harvest grass seeds for sale.

Theresia has met and exceeded her expectations for taking part in the training. She now markets her hay and seeds through the program’s Farmers’ Cooperative. After just one year, she was able to sell 3300 pounds of pasture for a good price, and earned more than double the income from her grass seed. The money allowed her to pay her granddaughter’s school fees and buy a dairy cow.  She says, “Now that I have enough pasture for at least two cows I would like to venture into dairy farming as well.”

Caption: Theresia’s increased hay yields

Kenya Kathonzweni Program
Led by Dorcas Aid International Foundation and Local Partner Kitise Rural Development
3 communities, 1,094 households and 7,660 individuals

 

04/18/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Forging Ahead Despite Challenges

Despite multiple challenges in post-conflict South Sudan, local staff has been hard at work training farm extension agents and health technicians to ready farmers and their families for better days. The civil war has ended, yet there continue to be security and infrastructure issues. The remoteness of the area means that people are not in direct danger from residual conflict, but also that basic services are lacking, including phone communications. Recent heavy rains brought flooding, and widespread illiteracy makes training much more difficult. Yet much has been accomplished.

The focus is particularly on women farmers – the backbones of the community. They need to get up to speed quickly on the most effective ways to manage their crops, vegetables, and homes.  Health extension workers have trained “hygiene promoters” to distribute supplies and show women how to treat both well water and river water. Families received soap and instruction on the importance of handwashing.

Agricultural extension workers also identified training needs and mobilized farmer groups to attend training sessions at demonstration plots.  They’ve taught basic principles of crop husbandry and growing vegetables. Because these farmers are starting out new, it has been necessary to distribute seeds and basic farming tools. Farmers are now concentrating on planting okra.

While challenges seem to be vast, it is clear that the will of local partner staff is strong. FRB’s implementing organization, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is confident that the agriculture and health extension training is laying the groundwork for success for these people as they return to normalcy following the war. Your support and prayers are much needed and greatly appreciated.

Caption: Farmer groups during agricultural training

South Sudan Uror Program
Led by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
1 community, 400 households, 2,800 individuals

 

03/13/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Men Get Cooking!

To promote growing and eating legumes, the Zimbabwe Mwenezi program's local partner SCORE recently held an entertaining and informative “Men Can Cook” competition among farmers. Since cooking is traditionally a women’s role, SCORE designed the competition to encourage men to participate in this household task.

Competing in teams, the men came up with their own recipes, prepared delicious meals that were judged by local officials, and then had the opportunity to taste each other’s creations and feed the women as well. One competitor, Mr. Tamuka, said, “Now that we know how to cook, men are becoming the best chefs in our households!  I want to make a meal for my in-laws some day.”

The competition was a milestone in SCORE’s mission to improve family nutrition and gender equity. More farmers are intercropping grains and legumes and feeling empowered by being able to eat better on locally-grown foods.  As another farmer, Mrs. Sibongile, put it, “My wealth is in the soil.”

The men and women farmers had previously received training in improving their soil and conserving moisture by planting legumes like lablab and pigeon pea. At workshops on meal prep and nutrition led by local home economics teachers, they learned that legumes combined with grains like rice or millet form a complete protein. Mr. Tamuka said, “Lablab is my favorite legume, and it is good for my health!”

Caption: “Men Can Cook”competitors show off their aprons and prizes

Zimbabwe Mwenezi Program
Led by Mennonite Central Committee and Local Partner SCORE
2 Communities, 320 Households, 2,240 Individuals

03/01/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Training Encouraged and Inspired Me

Like other farmers in the Bangladesh Kendua program area, Monowar says he used to grow only rice.  “We thought that rice was the only crop that we could grow, and that it would save us. But when I joined the farmer group, I learned about the importance of nutrition and decided to commit to nutrition-focused agriculture. After a workshop on kitchen gardening, I started growing vegetables along with my rice.”

Monowar has dedicated almost half of his land to the kitchen garden and has seen his family’s health improve with the variety of vegetables they now enjoy with their rice.  

But he didn’t stop there, as he was eager to learn as much as he could. “The SATHI training program also encouraged and inspired me to do environmentally-friendly agriculture,” he says.

Intrigued when he heard about how composting could improve the quality and quantity of his vegetables, Monowar collected all the necessary raw materials and invited FRB’s and World Renew’s local partner SATHI to conduct the practical training session at his house. He wanted other farmers to understand the importance of using compost and growing vegetables for a diversified diet.

In addition to vegetables commonly used in local dishes – spinach, amaranth, beans, eggplants, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and pumpkins – he’s started growing more unfamiliar ones to sell to a larger market. He received a loan from his farmer group’s savings and loan program to begin producing winter crops, and now grows vegetables year-round.
 
Caption: Monowar working in his kitchen garden.

Bangladesh Kendua program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner SATHI
6 communities, 1,080 households, 5,400 individuals

12/12/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Slow and Steady Progress Brings Lasting Results

Even extremely challenging areas like the enormous, sparsely populated and under-served Central African Republic (CAR) can move from a food-aid mindset to one of development, with the proper encouragement and commitment. FRB and our partners in the CAR Gamboula program have been working hand in hand since 2003 to help that process along. The program helps local partner CEFA develop and strengthen the skills they need to support more communities on their road to food security.

FRB is one of a very few non-government organizations focused on development in CAR. Aid organizations tend to come in briefly, hand out food or tools, and then leave. At its agricultural training center, CEFA emphasizes empowerment and is seeing real progress as participants share what they learn when they go back home. Communities are becoming aware of the cyclical nature of dependence on outside help and agree to develop from within.

Community representatives from around the country learn a variety of sustainable farming techniques at the center. They take disease-resistant cassava or nursery-raised fruit-tree seedlings back to their communities, sharing what they have and what they know. Participants are forming cooperatives and tree nurseries and learning to depend on each other rather than wait for a handout.  

The center is bringing in nearly enough income from pressing and selling palm oil to become self- sustaining. Soon, program monies can be used to expand extension services and outreach across CAR. As more farmers use recommended practices to improve their soil and raise more food they improve their families’ diets and begin to earn incomes from farming.

The process of changing a country-wide mindset from aid to empowerment is slow, but the results are lasting.

Photo caption: CEFA training center visitors

Central African Republic Gamboula program
Led by Evangelical Covenant/Covenant World Relief and local partner CEFA
30 communities, 600 households, 3,000 individuals

11/06/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Surrounded by Problems, Jogindra Finds Help and Hope

My name is Jogindra. I am 55 years old. My father died when I was young, so I lived with my elder brother and helped him in his work. He arranged my marriage when I was only 14. It was hard for me to provide for my wife, but I was always thinking about how I could improve. I decided to lease land to start farming, and was eventually able to purchase 3 kattha [about ¼ of an acre] and began growing vegetables and rice. However, I often found it difficult to run my house as smoothly as I wanted. I was tense and found it hard to deal with my daily problems.

Then, one day, I had an idea: why not look into one of the farmers’ groups organized by BICWS Nepal? Since I joined this past year, my knowledge has been built up so much. We now eat fresh vegetables, and I grow enough food to keep us well fed. We also have enough to sell some of it in the local market. I’ve made 24,000 rupees ($228) in a season, with a profit of 16,000 rupees ($152), a significant improvement over the past. I plan to lease an additional 5 kattha of land [approximately ½ acre] to increase my production of vegetables.

I am thankful and happy that this program was there to help me when I was surrounded by so many problems. I have learned a lot by attending classes and training events on how to grow my vegetables, make compost fertilizer, and protect my plants from pests through Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Men and women farmers in FRB’s Nepal-Bhatigachh program receive training in vegetable farming, seed saving and making worm compost to fertilize their fields. In addition to rice, they have mainly been growing eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower, chili peppers, potatoes, leafy greens, tomatoes, and radish. Most of the farmers had better yields due to sufficient rains in the last six months, and sold their excess produce at their local market. They used the money for family health and education needs and to cover a variety of household expenses.

Nepal-Bhatigachh encompasses 9 communities, 2,603 households and 13,748 individuals

04/10/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Co-ops Strengthen Communities in Haiti

A recent internal evaluation of FRB’s Haiti-Northwest program shows that its community cooperatives are helping their members make significant improvements in their lives and livelihoods.

In an area of the country with little government presence, farmer-run cooperatives in the Northwest and Artibonite departments of Haiti help their male and female members to build more resilient households,livelihoods and communities. The program especially focuses on women in their entrepreneurial efforts so that they have greater access to credit, training, and leadership formation opportunities.

09/26/2014 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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