One Acre Fund: Empowering Farmers to Grow Themselves Out of Poverty

Margaret Basaninyange is a smallholder farmer and owns a plot of land only 2.5 acres in size, in Kagabiro, Rwanda. She used to plant 7 kilograms of beans and harvested only 25 kilograms. With the help of non-profit One Acre Fund, she now plants 3 kilograms of beans and harvests 110 kilograms on the same land.

Margaret joined One Acre Fund in 2009 when the organisation began working in Kagabiro. Through the loan of fertilizers and improved seeds, One Acre Fund helped Margaret to dramatically increase her harvests, as well as providing her with training on how best to use these inputs. She has now become a successful farmer, and is helping others to do the same in her local community through her farming group Terimberemuhinzi, which means, “be prosperous”. She says:

Seven years ago, I applied organic fertilizer, but because I was never trained in its application, it burnt the coffee. Now I have received trainings from One Acre Fund and apply fertilizer and lime correctly to harvest more.

One Acre started up in 2006 with the goal of rethinking how to solve the chronic hunger crisis in Africa. Given that so many families in East Africa rely on subsistence farming, on plots of land sometimes not bigger that one acre, One Acre Fund developed an ‘investment package’ worth $75 dollars, which pays for the following:

1:  Empowering local farmers groups: One Acre Fund find and supports existing self-help groups, making it possible for them to economically interact with markets.

2. Farm education: One Acre Fund takes the latest practices from top academic agronomists, and translates them into simple lessons, taught by a field officer

3. Capital: One Acre Fund supplies farmers with commercial grade seeds which grow considerably better than food kernels currently used and fertilizer to replace nutrients in the degraded soil

4. Market facilitation: One Acre Fund’s field officers provide extensive training on post-harvest handling and storage, so that farmers do not experience post-harvest crop loss. When farmers can store safely, they can access the markets several months after harvest, when prices are higher.

5. Crop insurance: One Acre Fund has pioneered a crop insurance product that pays farmers in the event of a significant drought or disease.

For the past six years, One Acre Fund has been applying this program model in Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi, and reaped some impressive results. The latest bi-annual report showed that on average, farm income had doubles, and 98% of farmers were able to repay the programme fees, covering 82% of the field costs.

One Acre Fund farmer, Razoa Wasike, tells her story in this short video:

One Acre Fund has been accoladed by the Financial Times, winning one of two spots in their charity summer spotlight. In the article, found Andrew Youn commented:

We believe seed, fertiliser and training kickstarts this economic engine for people to earn their way out of poverty.

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