nutrition

Amaranth’s Nutritional Value is Restoring Health

Phiona’s involvement in the Kabale food security program was a turning point in her life when she learned to grow, cook and eat amaranth. As a farmer living with HIV who was frequently sick from infections due to poor nutrition, her ability to work was severely affected.

Phiona says, “Two years ago, I lost 75 pounds, my white blood cell count was very low, and I didn’t have much energy for farming, even though I depend on farming as my sole livelihood and to care for my child.”

She managed to attend training on growing and cooking amaranth and received seeds to plant.  As soon as her amaranth leaves turned green, she started eating them as a cooked vegetable similar to spinach, and began to feel stronger. Her health continued to improve when she added the grain to her diet.

Phiona’s face lit up when she said, “When I began to eat amaranth, my energy was restored, and my life turned completely around! My weight’s back up to normal, and my blood cell count has more than doubled. I like amaranth best when it’s popped first; then I stone grind it into flour.  I mix some of the flour into whatever food I eat, or add it to maize or millet flours for porridge and bread. It is delicious!”

Amaranth has been shown to improve nutrient intake and white blood cell counts, so local partner PAG South Western Uganda continues to promote its use, especially among farmers affected by HIV and AIDS.

Caption: A healthy Phiona with amaranth plants

Uganda Kabale Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner PAG South Western Uganda

Note: Phiona gave her permission to reveal her HIV status in this story

10/12/2018 | 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 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

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

Deltinora has Transformed her Land and her Life

Deltinora rarely grew enough on her small plot of land to feed her family until she joined a Self-Help Group (SHG) involved in the India Umsning program. Now there’s enough food and income from selling what the family doesn’t need to eat that her husband no longer has to work as a day laborer to make ends meet. In fact, her whole household of seven is committed to becoming the most progressive farmers in the village to share what they’ve learned and inspire others.

Through her SHG, Deltinora has attended countless training events, from effective kitchen gardening, water harvesting, composting, and raising small livestock to cultivating rice and improving sloping land to grow additional crops.  She also has access to government workshops on such topics as food processing. She used to have to buy any vegetables she needed at the local market, but now the family only eats what she grows, including beans, mustard leaves, red chilies, cabbages, yams, and foods used locally. She’s even raising pigs for profit!

Deltinora and her family are in the process of identifying their own plot of sloping land to cultivate now that they know it can be farmed effectively. Her hard work and dedication have impressed the members of her SHG enough to elect her as their secretary, and she makes it a point to encourage other women she meets to take part in SHG activities.

Caption: Deltinora in her kitchen garden

India Umsning Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner NEICORD

Excerpted from a story by Annamika Khar Lyngdoh
12 communities, 500 households, 2,500 individuals

 

04/11/2018 | 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

Getting Creative

María Francisca’s sales of her handmade soaps and hair gels may have started out modestly, but some small-business training has helped her take them to the next level. She initially sold what she made to neighbor women. Word-of-mouth advertising reached a beauty salon in a nearby town which now stocks her products. As a single mother of five, she’s grateful for the additional income.

Since many men in these indigenous Maya Mam communities have migrated for work, local partner CIEDEG staff prioritizes women, food security, and income opportunities as they develop programs. Kitchen gardens are popping up everywhere thanks to training on growing vegetables. If there’s any extra to sell, the women use what they earn to buy school supplies or to cover household expenses.

Women’s groups, or Sociedades Femininas, often meet in churches to share their experiences, organize, or receive training. A workshop on nutrition and creative cooking led to experimentation: radish leaves in omelets, anyone?

Besides María Francisca, other entrepreneurs have felt encouraged to act on their great ideas. Lucía and her sister started a small grocery store in the front room of their home. And three sisters – Juana, Catarina and Santa – have capitalized on their cooking skills to open a small restaurant. In addition to coffee, smoothies, and standard-fare meals, Juana makes chocolate-dipped bananas and, her own inspiration, chocolate-dipped orange slices.

Photo caption: María Francisca shows her wares
Credit: Bethany Beachum, CWS

Guatemala Nebaj-Quetzaltenango Program
Led by Church World Service and local partner CIEDEG
20 Communities, 771 households, 3,855 individuals

02/08/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Tree Nurseries Provide Multiple Benefits to Farmers

Environmental conservation is an important focus of FRB’s Kenya Tigania program.  With training on better stewardship of water, soil, and forest resources coupled with conservation agriculture practices like mulching and crop diversification, farmers lessen the risk of crop failure due to drought in this dry region.

Two farmer groups recently completed training in planting and managing tree nurseries in their communities.  When their trees are large enough to transplant to members’ farms, they will strengthen the soil structure and provide material for mulching. Mulching and shade will conserve precious moisture during the growing season. Fruit trees will add to the diversity of the local diet, fodder trees will supplement the feed given to area livestock, mainly goats and dairy cattle. Other tree varieties will provide a renewable source of fuel and lumber.

After training, the groups received watering cans, machetes, hoes and seeds of a wide variety of trees. Six men and 35 women prepared the nursery beds, and are currently raising 10,000 seedlings for distribution to their members.

Photo caption: Women prepare soil for their tree nursery

Kenya Tigania Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner ADS-Mt. Kenya East
7 communities, 200 households, 1,000 individuals

01/11/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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