drought

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

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

I Learn Best When I Try It Myself

World Renew explains that it takes hearing something several times before people will apply what they have learned, particularly for smallholder farmers who risk hunger if things do not go as planned.

When Ounteni and his wife, Hamsatou, finally put into practice what they’d heard about intercropping legumes like cowpeas with grains and feeding livestock rather than letting animals roam, they were astounded at the difference it made! Imagine their relief when they found that, despite the drought this year, their millet harvest was better than that of other people in their community who had not intercropped. The couple’s diet improved by combining cowpeas with the grain for a complete protein, and they had plenty of plant residue to store on their roof to provide fodder for the animals.

People generally let their animals roam around looking for food, but walking for kilometers every day to try to find something to eat often wore the animals out and, as a result, they did not gain much weight. Local Partner SEL has for several years been encouraging intercropping grains and legumes and penning animals, but it finally clicked for the couple when it sank in that animals would grow faster if they fenced them in and fed them.

So Ounteni and Hamsatou planted a legume called cowpea with their traditional millet. While those grew, they built a pen for their sheep and cows. The legumes added nitrogen to the soil and also protected the normally bare ground from the hot sun, retaining moisture. In addition to having enough food for themselves, Hamsatou proudly showed visitors how healthy the animals were now that she and her husband had changed their farming and animal husbandry practices.

Caption: Hamsatou proudly shows off her healthy livestock

West Africa 1 Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner Showing Everyone Love (SEL)
64 communities, 2,500 households, 17,500 individuals

(Partner and participant names have been changed for security reasons)

03/28/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Native Seeds: The Once and Future Crops

Local partner Chethana recently held a village rally to convince more farm families to try native seeds and organic farming methods. There was a good turnout of local officials, farmers, seed-saver groups, women’s self-help groups, school children and Chethana staff. Chethana is promoting a return to traditional crops as a means of improving food security now and preserving plant diversity for future generations.

Traditional farmers see the native varieties and sustainable farming as their protection against crop failures and famine. Higher yields mean families have enough to eat and still save seed for the next crop. Returning to traditional legumes and cereal grains – in combination, they provide a complete protein – also improves nutrition and health. Intercropping them prevents erosion, enriches the soil, promotes bio-diversity, and controls weeds and pests.

More and more people are willing to experiment with low-cost methods that bring higher yields and reduce expenses. For years, area farmers have grown only rice. In recent years they’ve experienced low farm productivity, scarce rainfall, depleted groundwater, and water shortages, and they worry about crop failures and famine. Many are deeply in debt from poor returns on investment in high-cost chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

At the recent rally, successful “seed saving” farmer groups displayed native varieties of millet, okra, sorghum and a perennial legume called red gram. Observers noted with interest that these plants are acclimated to the dry conditions, require less water, and respond well to applications of organic compost.

Caption: Harvesting native okra

India South Program
Led by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Local Partner Chethana
30 communities, 500 households, 2,500 individuals

03/14/2018 | 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

Women Now Earning 5x More; Planting Trees Saves Watershed

There is much to celebrate as FRB’s Honduras Orocuina and Liure program completes a second three-year phase for farmers and single mothers, including a significant increase in monthly income.

By starting small in-home grocery stores, single mothers are now earning five times more, with an average monthly income of 5,000 Lempiras (about $250). They can now provide for their children and are seen as role models in their community, giving hope to other women.

On the agricultural side of the program, environmentally destructive slash-and-burn agriculture is on the decline. Approximately 80% of farmers have stopped burning their fields, and more join them every year. These farmers have seen first hand how conservation agriculture improves their yields and how the loss of forests impacts the weather and their water supply.

Farmers are also diversifying their crops and diets beyond corn, to include fruits and more vegetables such as squash and yuca (a tuber). Some are growing cashews, sesame and passion fruit as cash crops. Diversification was an important factor in communities’ food security when insects destroyed the sorghum crop. Many community groups are saving a portion of their corn and other grains in seed banks to protect against future losses.

What’s more, a healthy forest now stands around a local watershed thanks to a community’s hard work and dedication in planting 13,000 trees. The river in this watershed is the only one that did not dry up during a recent drought.

Photo caption: Doña Ilce’s store fills a community need and improves her income

Honduras Orocuina and Liure Program is Led by Mennonite Central Committee and Local Partner CODESO
8 Communities, 255 Households, 1,740 Individuals

11/07/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Water Security Flows Into Food Security

During a severe 2014 drought, a neighboring community and its 10,000 head of cattle survived because of sand dams, the only source of water.  So, when the 15 members of a self-help group in FRB's Kenya Ngong Intashat program decided it was time to build one, they were able to recruit their entire community to pitch in.

These concrete structures, built across sandy areas along seasonal rivers, capture and hold water and sand from flash floods. As the raging waters slam into the dam, sand carried by the water sinks, and water collects in the sand in the hole dug for the purpose. More water is held in a pond on the other side of the wall, and used throughout the year for household needs, agriculture, and livestock.  When a drought hits and the pond is dry, water that’s been stored in the sand away from dirt and insects can be reached by digging. 

The dam in Kajiado County was inaugurated in April, and the community received instruction on its care and efficient use. Because maintenance is in the hands of the residents, they know it’s up to them to keep it in good order. They’ll be building a fence to keep livestock out, and directing water to collection points below the dam for cattle to drink.

This community has started a small vegetable garden near the dam site, planting kales, spinach and onions. Because most people’s experience and livelihoods are based on cattle, they receive training from MIDI, the local partner, on keeping bees, tending kitchen gardens, and creating small-business activities. Self-help groups are also learning dryland farming techniques to diversify their food sources and protect themselves from total crop failures.

Kenya Ngong Intashat program
Led by Mennonite Central Committee and local partner MIDI
10 communities, 4,500 households, 31,500 individuals




09/28/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Mulching Means More Maize

Salome spends a lot less time on farm work because the mulching she does suppresses weeds and frees her from hoeing, a task that used to consume most of her time.  

Like most farmers in this dry region of Kenya, Salome’s maize yields were increasingly disappointing until she tried a number of techniques aimed at building soil fertility and retaining moisture.  This harvest, Salome’s production tripled in spite of a lack of rain.  She had improved her soil with such conservation agriculture practices as minimum tillage, applying manure as fertilizer, crop rotation, agroforestry, and using drought-tolerate varieties. But, for Salome, the technique she most appreciates is mulching. With less overall work, her harvest increased from one to four 220-pound bags of maize in the same small plot.

She and other farmers have also started practicing better post-harvest grain handling and storage, including drying maize on tarps in the sun to prevent the poisonous fungus aflatoxin. Many are storing their grain now in hermetically sealed bags that prevent moisture and pests without chemicals. Higher yields and reduced post-harvest losses mean more overall food for their families, more to sell, and more to plant the following year.

Participant farmers are also planting trees to produce fruit, fuel, wood, shade, and mulching materials. All these and other improved practices are taught at the program’s two hands-on Farmer Field Schools and disseminated through their communities by trained facilitators. When they see the great results that conservation farming yields, area farmers go on to put their new knowledge to work on their own farms.

Kenya Tigania encompasses 7 Communities, 200 Households, 1,000 Individuals
Led by World Renew and local partner ADS - Mt Kenya

09/14/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Community Pools Resources to Overcome Drought

Once community members in FRB’s Kenya Magarini program realized they had the resources at hand to overcome food insecurity despite their challenges, including a regional drought, they poured themselves into making positive change happen. The inspiration came from a hands-on Participatory Rural Assessment (PRA) process that helped them analyze their challenges, identify solutions and create a community action plan to guide their development.  

“If it hadn’t been for this program and the PRA, we would not be farming as a group and we could not know the benefits of coming together as a community,” says Saidi, a trained community resource person.

He tells how they started with two Farmer Field Schools with demo farms. The first planting season was challenging because of the drought. They only planted a few crops -- just enough to establish a kitchen garden for the farmers to learn about crop diversification as a way to reduce their risks of crop failure. But when they also tried planting on their individual farms, the farmers harvested little or nothing due to the drought.

That’s when the field school members decided to join forces to plant a community garden. A member loaned them two acres of land that had adequate water for irrigation so they could produce vegetables for income and family consumption. They received a loan from their community-based savings and loan association to purchase insecticides and, with additional capital from members, they bought seeds.

"Member families had access to nutritious vegetables that they could either buy or receive on credit,” says Chrispine, a farmer in the program. At times members even received free produce to motivate them to work in the garden.

Saidi reports that they made a total of $773 from the sale of the second harvest, and $360 from the third. That harvest was smaller because of some challenges the group faced with the farm owner, but they are now clearing and preparing a different plot for their fourth planting season.

The community is buying PVC pipe and a water pump for irrigation, and bricks to construct a shallow well for easier access to water. They also have money in their account for fuel for the water pump, land preparation and farm inputs.

“The challenges didn’t stop us from doing what we love,” says Saidi. “We are really grateful.”

Kenya Magarini encompasses 10 communities, 1,842 households and 4,836 individuals

Led by World Renew and local partner ADS Pwani

06/01/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

In Cambodia, a family’s rice field flourishes despite drought

Bunthoeun, 45, his wife and their four children had a successful rice harvest in spite of last year’s drought because of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) he’d learned through FRB’s Cambodia-South program.

He also applied appropriate farming and poultry-raising techniques he’d mastered at the program’s hands-on Farmer Field School (FFS). The various new methods allowed him to provide diverse and nutritious food for his family, and he even had some surplus rice, produce and chickens to sell at the local market. With his newly acquired capital, he has been able to expand his rice field. 

04/08/2015 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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