As demand for food grows, we need to ensure the way we produce it remains as environmentally sound as possible. Farmers can now be guided by technology, to use earth’s resources like land and water in the most efficient way. It can also help them apply vital inputs like crop protection and fertilizer in the right amounts. This is called precision agriculture, and here 10 ways Farming First supporters are putting it to good use. Continue reading
“Only by putting the poorest in charge of their own lives and destinies, will absolute poverty and deprivation be removed from the face of the earth.”
These words came from Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, 2015 winner of the prestigious World Food Prize, which was announced this summer. To celebrate the prize giving in Des Moines this October at the Borlaug Dialogue, we are delving into the ways our supporters around the world are using agriculture as a means to empower the poorest in the latest instalment in our “content mash-up” series.
Read on to find out how farmers are being helped to graduate to more sustainable livelihoods… Continue reading
In this guest post, Stephanie Hanson and Hilda Poulson of One Acre Fund outline why they believe a “distribution revolution” is needed to get tools into the hands of smallholder farmers.
The day she received her fertilizer delivery, Rwandan smallholder farmer Anonciata Mbakirirehe couldn’t help but smile. She was one of over 40 farmers who met at a village in Kayenzi, Rwanda, to receive fertilizer delivered within walking distance of their homes. The delivery was organized by One Acre Fund, which provides seed and fertilizer on credit to 200,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania. Continue reading
Our guest author, Emily Alpert, Deputy Director of Agriculture for Impact, concludes our series of blog articles on resilience published in partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ahead of the conference “Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security” 15-17 May 2014.
An acre is about the size of a football pitch. That might seem like a lot, but if your livelihood depends on it, it is rather small. In a good year, (that is with good seed, fertilizer and rain) a farmer can yield about 3 tons of maize on one acre. You might wonder why the 500 million or so smallholder farmers worldwide, who by definition farm on less than five acres (two hectares), farm at all. But my recent trip to Bungoma, Kenya, proved that there are ways these small farmers can be supported to build more robust livelihoods. The Montpellier Panel, Growth with Resilience report, for example, makes the case that people can be resilient with support for women and youth, diversified incomes and better nutrition.
FOCUS ON RURAL WOMEN AND YOUTH
We talked to Fumona, a single mother and grandmother. Over 30 percent of rural households in Kenya are headed by women, and focusing support on rural women proves to have a positive impact on health, nutrition and education levels for the rest of the family, thus contributing to more resilient communities. Funoma has been receiving credit, inputs, training and insurance from NGO One Acre Fund. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9byUyq5g9nU Fumona planted more than just maize this year as an outbreak of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND) could have destroyed her entire crop. Instead, with advice from One Acre Fund she divided her acre between finger millet, maize, beans and groundnuts. She ended up with an astounding seven bags of finger millet (about 70 kg) from planting just a quarter-acre, or in other words, more than enough to feed her family and leftovers to sell.
Farmers situated near Kisumu in a small village called Siaya such as Timothy Okoth, his wife Jennifer and their 5 children, weren’t as lucky. With just a few goats and a couple of chickens milling about the village, it was clear that these farmers have very little to fall back on if the rains are too short or their crops are damaged by pest or disease. Last year they faced severe drought and only produced 6 bags of maize that simply was not enough for the 7 of them. Diversity is key to resilience as an entire livelihood can be wiped out if you are reliant solely on one crop. When and where these options don’t exist, safety nets can catch your fall and help you to bounce back more quickly. Even though drought ravaged Timothy and Jennifer’s crops, they were relieved to be One Acre Fund members. In addition to their package of seeds and fertilizer, they also bought an insurance policy. The insurance pay-out turned out to be a very smart investment indeed; enabling them to stay on their feet in hopes of better rains to come.
SCALE UP NUTRITION
40 percent of children under five in sub-Saharan Africa are stunted. Adequate nutrition not only prevents irreversible damage to physical and mental abilities, but helps children become more resilient in the face of disease. To that end, the farmers we visited in Siaya are learning how to build a nursery for sukumu seedlings, a nutrient-rich kale variety. The sukumu will not only help to provide essential vitamins and minerals, but also a potential source of income. They hope that One Acre Fund will also help them access seeds for onions and tomatoes to eventually sell in their local markets. So can you survive on one acre or less? It’s not easy, but it is doable, especially when there is good weather. And when there’s not, one hopes that more farmers will have the access to and choose to participate in programmes like One Acre Fund. Resilience for farmers on an acre or less might still require cattle and kale, but making a wise investment never hurts either.
This blog article is part of an ongoing series on resilience being published ahead of an upcoming IFPRI conference to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in May 2014. Building resilience means helping people, communities, countries, and global institutions prevent, anticipate, prepare for, cope with, and recover from shocks, not only helping them to “bounce back” but also to become better off. This conference aims to help set priorities for building resilience, to evaluate emerging threats to resilience, and to draw lessons from humanitarian and development responses to previous shocks.
Thursday 20th March, 11am – 12pm EDT on Twitter
Join the conversation!
2014 is the International Year of Family Farming. But who is at the head of these family-farming households? Research from the FAO has found that up to 40% of households are headed by women in Eastern Africa, and across the developing world, women account for 60 to 80% of smallholder farmers.
Yet these women face economic and social constraints. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 15% of landholders are women, and they receive less than 10% of credit and 7% of extension services.
Policies that address gender inequalities could lift 150 million people out of hunger. How can women be empowered to make this estimation a reality?
Join experts from USAID and global agriculture coalition Farming First on Twitter at 11am EDT on Thursday 20th March to debate the issues with our experts:
Sylvia Cabus is the gender advisor for the Bureau of Food Security at USAID and for the Feed the Future Initiative. She worked for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Kenya, Morocco, Mali,and Burkina Faso. In the United States, Sylvia worked as a program officer with Heifer International, Handicap International, and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.
Stephanie Hanson is the director of policy and outreach at One Acre Fund, where she manages the government relations and policy team and One Acre Fund’s global policy and advocacy work. From 2006 to 2009, she covered economic and political development in Africa and Latin America for CFR.org, the website of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Sue Carlson has been a farmer and family farm advocate much of her life. She currently serves as Facilitator and Chairperson of the World Farmers Organisation Women’s Committee, a GAP Catalyst for the Global Funding and Research Gender in Agricultural Partners, and serves on the Shamba Partnership Board. Over the years she has traveled to nearly 40 different countries advocating for family farmers.
Sithembile Ndema Mwamakamba is a Project Manager with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN). She coordinates the FANRPAN Youth and Gender Programme Portfolio, aimed at developing a holistic agriculture policy framework in Africa that will support engagement of youth and women in the agriculture sector.
Questions to be addressed:
- What challenges do women in family farming face in the developing world, and what do they need to thrive?
- How can we reach more women farmers worldwide with tools and skills they need?
- What are the success stories that show the benefits of investing in rural women? How do we measure this success?
- How do we identify and empower male allies in the quest to improve women-run family farms?
- Women farmers are often both the breadwinners and the bread bakers. How do we improve the nutritional status of family farms?
If you have additional questions you’d like to ask our experts, tweet @Agrilinks or @farmingfirst using the #AskAg hashtag!
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.
To find out more, visit www.oneacrefund.org