agriculture

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

Families Now Producing Most of Their Own Food

As FRB’s Guatemala Sibinal program concludes, local families are now producing 75% of their own food, meaning they can spend more on education, health care, and housing. Magdalena tells her family’s story.

Before the program, my family only produced corn and a few vegetables. We didn’t have a source of income, though, so my husband traveled to Mexico for months at a time to work on the coffee farms. I was left to take care of the children, the house and the farming all by myself. We had no hope things would ever change.

But when we began our education in agro-ecology our situation started to change. I like farming the earth naturally, making our own organic fertilizers and insecticides and planting a greater variety of vegetables. At first, it was hard to stop using chemicals because that’s what we were used to. But gradually we found that what we grew organically tasted better, and we had less and less need to buy pesticides and fertilizer.

My husband is home more. He and I and our children farm the earth together and are more united as a family. We’re healthier because our food is better, more varied. We even earn an income. People come to our house to buy vegetables, and we also sell them at the Mexican border. Our whole community has improved because several families are farming and caring for our Mother Earth or eating more nutritious food from our farm plots.

We want to say thank you to everyone who supported us through the years. We gained knowledge, we put it into practice, and we continue improving every day.

Caption: Simple techniques like transplanting seedlings promote more frequent harvests and profitability

Guatemala Sibinal
Led by Mennonite Central Committee
4 Communities, 125 Households, 549 Individuals

12/01/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Better Together: Shared Learning Spreads Success

When introducing new concepts to villagers in our West Africa* program, our local partner always starts out with a “Moussa and Halima” story.  Moussa is a traditional farmer who never changes and never gets ahead, and the dynamic Halima is always learning and improving her practices.  One villager reacted by saying, “Halima didn’t do what was right. She didn’t share her idea of how to improve her field with Moussa! You should always share what you’ve learned with others, even if they don’t ask!”

In that same spirit, some sixty people from different community groups recently gathered for an annual meeting under a large shade tree to learn from each other’s experiences, mistakes, and successes.

One group said their first attempt at organizing failed because they didn’t enforce membership rules. The second time around, they laid out the rules more clearly, as well as how they would be enforced. Several years later, the group reports long-term success.

Another group started a community garden with 30 participants, but had a crop failure from watering too much. The following year, only seven people had the courage to try again. But, when the other villagers saw the turnaround in how much they harvested and how the food had helped their families, more and more people joined. There are now 60 people gardening together.

A third group goes beyond simple gardening and marketing advice, helping each other when someone is sick, or giving marriage advice when couples are having difficulties.

West Africa* Program
Led by World Renew and local partner SEL (Showing Everyone Love)*
*For security reasons, all names are changed.  
64 communities, 2,500 households, 17,500 individuals


11/16/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Sylvia Builds Success Brick by Brick

Sylvia, a young farmer, entrepreneur, and participant in our Kenya Makueni program, is proud to be able to support her family. She’s proud, too, that she’s making it possible for other young people to earn an income. She employs up to four young people in her brickmaking business, each of whom earns about $3 a day.

And, thanks to support from our program, the youth farming group that Sylvia belongs to is flourishing. They went from nearly abandoning farming to generating income from their fields and greenhouse and starting small businesses.

When the group first tried to raise kale on their farm, their lack of technical know-how led to failure and frustration. Some members began moving to towns in search of employment, but many stayed on when offered practical training. They learned a number of sound conservation agricultural practices like drip irrigation, and received seeds, a greenhouse, and a quarter acre of land to use. The group planted tomatoes in the greenhouse and peppers in the field, and received regular advice from our local partner. They made enough not only to cover their expenses and set aside personal savings but to start a Village Savings and Lending Association (VSLA) group. The VSLA will help members find even more ways to earn an income.

Sylvia took out one of the first VSLA loans to start a brick-making business. She hired four young people to help her at a penny a brick, eventually selling 5,000 bricks at a nickel apiece, for a net profit of $170. She has since been able to repay her loan and expand her business. She looks forward to continued success both as a farmer and a business owner and employer.

Picture caption: "Soil ripping, a conservation ag practice

Kenya Makueni Program is Led by Lutheran World Relief
4 Communities, 244 households, 6,221 individuals

11/01/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Devaputra Leads Neighbors in Adopting Organic Farming

Devaputra, his wife, and their six children are experiencing increased food and nutrition security from eating the traditional crops they now grow organically on their farm. They say they feel safer because they know there are no chemical residues in their food, and they appreciate the economic benefits of not having to buy seeds, fertilizer and insecticides.

Farmers like Devaputra are conserving and using native seeds and adopting organic farming practices to help them flourish in spite of this year’s drought and other weather-related effects in Southern India.

Devaputra has been a member of a farmers’ cooperative since 2013 which later joined FRB’s India South program. He has participated in a number of capacity-building programs and workshops that focus on organic agriculture and emphasize the need for genetically diverse food crops, especially native millet, in adapting to climate change. As a result, he and the other participants have been able to adjust their farming practices, maintain optimal soil pH and fertility, protect beneficial insects, and achieve greater yields.

As a member of his co-op’s governing body, Devaputra wants everyone to experience his family’s success. He has emerged as a role model for the other farmers of his village and surrounding villages, actively promoting native seed saving and conservation agriculture. He recently hosted a field day on his farm to show the benefits of organic farming.


India South encompasses 30 communities, 500 households, and 2,500 individuals

 

05/30/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Workshops, Family and Friendships Improve Self Sufficiency

Alva was born and raised in the southwestern Guatemalan department of Jutiapa, but soon felt that the land there was not as suitable for growing crops as in other areas. She eventually moved her family to the department of Petén in the north where she purchased a small plot of fertile land.

There, one of her neighbors invited her to attend agricultural training led by FRB’s local partner APIDEC in its Guatemala Four Departments program. Although Alva was afraid at first that others wouldn’t let her join the program, they quickly accepted her. She eventually began to form new relationships, regularly attending workshops and learning alongside the other participants.

After a few years of living in Petén, her son married a woman named Sheyla who was from his mother’s hometown in Jutiapa. Sheyla was heartily welcomed by Alva and their new community. The two women now work their gardens side-by-side.

Both Alva and Sheyla say they’ve been encouraged by their friendship and how it has strengthened the bond between their families. The women have learned many new cultivation techniques, such as how to diversify their crops, make organic insecticides, construct their own seedbeds, and graft plants. The families are growing many varieties of crops on their plots and are now able to sell their produce. Their economic well-being has improved as a result of training and practice, and they saved enough money to start a fish hatchery, further diversifying their families’ diets. Alva and Sheyla have begun to teach their children how to grow food, and many people from their community come to see how they plant and grow produce on such a small plot of land.

Alva feels blessed to have been a part of APIDEC’s training and now teaches others in her community what she has learned.

Guatemala-Four Departments encompasses 25 communities, 750 households, and 4,500 individuals

04/07/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Model Farmers Spread Learning

Lyly, 34, was selected in 2014 to be a model farmer in FRB's Cambodia-South program, and has been active ever since in learning and trying out new techniques. Before her involvement with the program, her family depended on her husband's income as a barber and part-time construction worker, and she grew mainly rice and a few varieties of vegetables. She is now growing a wider variety of crops and replacing her use of standard fertilizer and other inputs with a number of organic practices. 

Lyly's vegetables, chicken and fish are not only for personal consumption but also to sell for income. With her overwhelming success in agriculture work, her husband now spends most of his time at home helping her with the farm. Open to sharing her experience with others, she is the type of person being recruited as model Multi-Purpose Farmers in a new phase of the program.

The program's local partners are signing up Farmer Field School (FFS) members and others who have been successful with new sustainable agriculture techniques and continue to experiment. Candidates must demonstrate a high level of responsibility and motivation, have a strong work ethic and an aptitude for adapting and innovating with agricultural practices. They must be willing to continue to share what they have learned with their neighbors. 

During the next six months of the program, the first group of 12 multi-purpose farmers will begin to prepare their farms by installing ponds, canals, and planting sites. They will visit a high-performing multi-purpose farm to learn about farm design. They will also receive training on soil enhancement techniques, raising animals, and year-round fruit and vegetable production.  They will start implementing what they have learned right away. As a group, they will meet quarterly at each other's farms to share experiences and progress. An expert farmer will visit their farms periodically to offer coaching.

The goal is to improve food security and income for rural farming households in Cambodia through the use of sustainable intensification practices and farming systems that enhance the productivity of farms and farmers' access to markets. This program seeks to establish 65 multi-purpose model farms over a three-year period which will help support learning for an additional 600 farmers.  

03/23/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

2014 Tour de Farms is a Grand Success!

On Sunday August 31, 150 bikers of all ages participated in the first FRB Tour de Farms hosted by the Western Springs/Mazon Growing Project. Biking about 12 miles total, participants toured the fields and farms of several Mazon farmers

09/02/2014 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

In Kenya, 10 self-help groups selected as leaders in their communities

To promote greater commitment to agricultural development among the Maasai participants in FRB’s Kenya-Ngong Najile program, ten of the program’s 39 established self-help groups were selected for special training to become “servant leaders” to the others. Their communities will benefit from the stewardship, good examples, knowledge, improved relationships, conflict resolution, and goal-reaching of these groups.

The program addresses food security for these once semi-nomadic, pastoralist people and encourages them to form inclusive groups across gender, age and political lines. The groups participate in trainings on

06/07/2013 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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