Stories tagged: world vision

Yaouza’s Story: How Forest Conservation Can Boost Incomes in Niger

Barrett Alexander, Program Manager for Food Security and Livelihoods at World Vision, explains how Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration can help empower farmers and boost crop yields in the Sahel.

In Niger, the encroaching Sahel is a daily constraint for farmers – the wind, sand, dust, soil degradation, water scarcity, and recurring drought make it hard for farmers to provide for their families.

In the northeastern part of Niger, in the Maradi Region, World Vision works with local farmers on Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) to combat the encroaching Sahel. FMNR is part agro-forestry, part environmental conservation, part Disaster Risk Reduction, and part economic driver. It works by finding indigenous tree species, once abundant in Niger but decimated by drought and human population pressure in the 1970s and 80s, and teaching farmers about pruning methodologies to allow those trees to regrow. The regrowth of the trees has shown to reduce surface wind speeds, increase soil fertility, increase ground water availability, increase yields, and reduce surface temperatures.

Since the inception of FMNR in the 1980s, its growth throughout the country cannot be understated. Currently, there is roughly 5 million hectares of land re-greened through FMNR, with approximately 200 million indigenous trees. In some of World Vision’s project sites, there is a 250 percent increase in tree/shrub density on FMNR sites and the average tree density increased from 35.57 trees per hectare in 2014 to 123 trees per hectare in 2017. This increase in density is helping farmers increase their staple crop production, primarily millet, by 58 percent due to soil revitalization, increased ground water availability, reduced wind speeds that take top soil away, and reduced surface temperatures in this very arid environment.

Champion Farmer Model

One farmer stands out among the rest – Yaouza Harouna. After incorporating FMNR on his 4.5-hectare rain-fed and 0.5-hectare irrigated land in 2013, he now can fully provide for his family. Yaouza has re-grown roughly 310 new trees, including 60 Sahel apple trees. By implementing FMNR, Yaouza increased the productive capacity of his land and became a sustainable farmer. In the Guidan-Roumdji district where he lives, the average millet yield is 547 kg/hectare,—he produced 937 kg/hectare by planting nearest the bases of his trees. He also produced 450 kgs of peanuts, 250 kgs of cowpeas, 375 kgs of sorghum, 2,000 watermelons, and 833 kgs of Sahel apples from his new trees.

Yahouza Harouna showing his millet stock at his house in the village of Tambara-Sofoua Yahaya

All of this production provided Yaouza and his family with approximately $2,534 in income generation on the staple crops and $943 in income for the Sahel apples. Furthermore, roughly 70 percent of the millet and sorghum were used for direct consumption and to provide food for his extended family. With all this income, Yaouza has provided his household with sustainable food and firewood provision, put his children in private school, supported relatives, branched out into more income generating activities (small trading, sheep fattening), purchased a motorbike, extended his land by two hectares, and employed a local man to help watch the land and tend the crops. In effect, our Champion Farmer, based on initial interest in FMNR, has rightfully gained his moniker.

Recommendations for FMNR Implementation

Based on the current trend of FMNR as a sustainable agriculture model and the usage of World Vision’s Champion Farmer Model, there are several recommendations for agriculture implementers.

The first, is engaging the community at the start. A deep explanation of FMNR, the requirements (including community by-laws and enforcement mechanisms), economic benefits, and social cohesion should be the first actions for new implementers

Next, it is important to identify key community actors that will take on promoting FMNR in the community and use their skills, land, and leadership in the community to become “Champion Farmers” like Yaouza. Farmers learn best and incorporate new practices when they see and learn it from other farmers – use this to your advantage and encourage the free exchange of information and site visits between your Champion Farmers and new, doubtful farmers

For more information on how to implement FMNR initiatives, you can visit World Vision’s FMNR Hub for training resources, research, and technical guidance:

10 Ways Agriculture is Improving Lives in Asia

In this latest instalment of our “Supporter Spotlight” series, we take a trip to Asia to learn about the innovative projects Farming First supporters are working on all over the continent to improve food security and farmers’ lives.

1. Fintrac: Beating Drought with Smart Water Management in Cambodia

When the rains did not come in 2015, one group of farmers in the northeastern province of Pursat not only survived, but thrived. They had banded together to form a Water User Group, that managed farmer access to the Polyum Canal. By maximising efficiency and eliminating conflict around water use, and using good agricultural practices taught by the Cambodia HARVEST program, group members have increased their productivity from an average of 2,500 kilograms per hectare to more than 4,000. As a result, their household incomes have increased by 536 percent! Read more >>

2. GAIN: Meet the Wheatamix Women in India

Through funding from the Bestseller Foundation, GAIN is working in the states of Karnataka and Bihar in India to improve the nutrition and lives of groups of semi-literate women. These women are trained to run their own factories producing a quality blended complementary food product called ”Wheatamix” in Bihar and “Shakhti Vita” in Karnataka. This complementary food product, fortified with vitamins and minerals, has the potential to reach thousands of women, adolescents and children in the region. Read more >>


3. CropLife: An Indian Farmer Perspective on Biotechnology

In this interview with CropLife International, Balwinder Singh shares his experience of planting an insect-resistant strain of cotton. “I was lucky to be part of the trial when Bt cotton came to India, and when I saw the benefits of this technology; I was the first person to say, this is what is going to save us,” he said. “I took a gamble, and took an additional 50 hectares of land on lease to sow Bt cotton.  It has paid off and my family is enjoying a decent living.” Read more >>

4. IPNI: Healthier Soils Make Indian Farmers More Maize

Access to water has created a challenge for many Indian farmers, increasing interest in alternative crops to flooded rice. Working in West Bengal, research staff at the International Plant Nutrition Institute have focused on developing a rice-maize rotation as an alternative to rice to address the water challenge. Research showed that adding potassium, phosphorus, sulphur and zinc in order to grow maize effectively added US$80 – $290/ha to the farmer’s income. Not only was the maize yield increased, but similar responses were recorded in the rice in these on-farm trials. Read more >>

5. CNFA: Building a Network for Agro-Input Services in Bangladesh 

CNFA implements the USAID-funded Agro-Inputs Project (AIP) to improve the knowledge of and access to quality agricultural inputs for farmers in Bangladesh. CNFA provides trainings and technical assistance on business management and ethics, basic agronomics, safe use and handling of pesticides and other related topics to 3,000 agro-input retailers. Of this, 300 women-retailers are specifically targeted. These agro-input retailers are expected to serve 1 million smallholder farmers, impacting more than 5 million individuals across 20 southern districts of Bangladesh, generating more than $100 million in sales. Read more >>

6. Livelihoods: Mangroves Restore Agricultural Land in Indonesia 

In 1987, Northern Sumatra had 200,000 hectares of mangroves. Today, less than half of that amount remains, with only 83,000 hectares standing. This Livelihoods project has restored mangrove forests, and as a result, increases the safety of the local population. Replanting coastal mangroves significantly buffers coastal communities from future tsunamis akin to that of the 2004 tsunami. Mangrove forests also help to restore vital agricultural land. Additionally, this project generates new sources of economic income. Local villagers are able to increase their revenues by selling the by-products of the mangroves such as fish, mollusks, batik dye and honey. Read more >>


7. HarvestPlus: Iron Pearl Millet Enriches Diets in India

Iron deficiency is rampant in India, affecting 7 out of 10 children. It impairs mental development and learning capacity, increases weakness and fatigue, and may increase the risk of women dying during childbirth. HarvestPlus is working with partners to promote varieties of pearl millet rich in iron, to help combat malnutrition. Read more >>

8. iDE: Saving Time and Earning Money Through Water Access in Nepal 

Rural villages in Nepal lack several basic services, but the primary issue for many is access to water. Multiple-Use Water Systems (MUS) are an improved approach to water resource management, which taps and stores water and distributes it to households in small communities to meet both domestic and household agricultural needs. In addition to dramatically decreasing the workload of women and girls, MUSs provide benefits in health and sanitation, as well as enabling communities to improve their decisions on the allocation of water resources. “After we got the water it was easy to grow vegetables,” says Kamala Pariyar, a rural farmer in Dikurpokhari. “I used to ask my husband for money to buy basic things. Now, by selling the vegetables, I can earn 600 rupees a day. I have enough money.” Read more >>

9. World Vision: Mangrove Planting Revitalizes Philippine Fishing Community

When a fishing village in the western part of Leyte in the Philippines was struggling to catch enough to feed their families, World Vision helped to implement a mangrove planting initiative. Each family was provided with an average of 1,000 mangrove stalks to plant in the area near their house, to provide a safe habitat of various species of fish, where they can lay their eggs without being disturbed by double net fishing. There is now abundant fish for catching once more, and the community is protected from the risk of typhoons. Read more >>


10. IFA: Combatting Iodine Deficiencies Through Fertigation

Globally it is estimated that 2.2 billion people in the world are at a risk of iodine deficiency, which causes a wide range of physiological abnormalities, mainly related to defective mental development and brain damage. The content of iodine in food depends on the iodine content of the soils in which crops are grown. In Xinjiang Province, in the North West of China, the soil is particularly poor in iodine with an associated high infant-mortality rate. A project was put in place to supply the water irrigation system with iodine using an iodine fertilizer dripping technique, called fertigation. With this technique, the iodine from the treated water is absorbed by the soil and progresses through plants, animals and humans that eat the iodine-rich plants. Thanks to this project, rates of infant mortality halved and local livestock production increased by 40% in the first year! Read more >>

Do you have an inspiring story about Asian agriculture? Tweet @FarmingFirst and tell us about it!

How Farmers in Africa are Restoring Degraded Lands & Enhancing Resilience

27th October 2016

Washington D.C., USA

Join World Vision for a discussion with Tony Rinaudo and Robert Winterbottom of World Resources Institute  on Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration – a key strategy for restoring degraded lands, improving food security and increased the resilience of rural communities. Read more >>

Sheri Arnott: Everyday Emergencies – How Social Protection Schemes Can Build Resilient Children, Families and Communities

Our guest author, Sheri Arnott, Senior Policy Advisor for Food Assistance/Food Security at World Vision, continues 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.

While severe food crises depicted in the media account for the most visible violations of people’s  human right to food in the world, hundreds of millions more men, women and children across the globe experience a more silent ‘everyday emergency’ characterized by chronic poverty, hunger and malnutrition. The numbers are staggering: 868 million people chronically food insecure, one in four children stunted, and 100 million more children suffering from wasting.

These ‘everyday emergencies’ can be described as predictable hunger and need to be met with a predictable response.

While food assistance is best known for saving lives in emergencies, short-term emergency response is a rather blunt instrument to address this chronic food and nutrition insecurity.

Child-sensitive safety nets, as part of comprehensive social protection systems, are increasingly seen as valuable and effective interventions to strengthen the resilience of children, families and communities, mitigate the effects of poverty on families, strengthen families in their child care role, and enhance access to basic services for the poorest and most marginalized.

Safety nets are particularly important in fragile contexts where governance is weak, public services are mostly non-existent and where the context limits the range of interventions available to build livelihoods and improve child health and education outcomes in the long term.

Safety nets can take a variety of forms, from Brazil’s celebrated Bolsa Família which grants families a monthly stipend if their children are in full-time education, to Home Grown School Feeding programs that source food from local farmers to serve free at schools. These are just two examples of how safety nets can help poor households manage hunger and malnutrition risks while boosting community incomes. There still exists, however, a significant gap in how to best support more effective safety nets systems in fragile contexts — where they are most needed, least available and most difficult to deliver.

World Vision has had great success in leveraging food assistance safety nets to make real progress in beating hunger and building resilience for poor smallholder farmers through its use of Food for Assets to support their adoption of a simple, low-cost land regeneration system.

Called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), it involves the systematic regrowth and management of trees and shrubs from felled tree stumps, sprouting root systems or seeds. From humble beginnings, today over five million hectares of farmland have been re-vegetated in Niger alone, largely by direct farmer-to-farmer exchange of information about this approach. This occurred in one of the world’s poorest countries with little investment in the forestry sector by either the government or NGOs.

FMNR has not only restored croplands, grazing lands and forests to meet further food and fibre needs, but has also transformed communities by providing more food and better nutrition for millions of people.

Today, World Vision is supporting FMNR in twelve other countries in Africa and Asia. Providing food safety nets helps farming families meet their immediate food and nutrition needs, allowing them the space and time to innovate and invest in improving farming practices, build soil health, diversify diets, and build social cohesion, and weather future shock and stressors to agriculture-based livelihoods systems.

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.

How to build the resilience of African smallholder farmers in a changing climate

African smallholder farmers are in the eye of the climate change storm. Increased flooding and droughts have seen crop yields diminish as many farmers struggle to support their own livelihoods. With over 70 percent of the continent’s populations dependent on agriculture, this is a problem which cannot be ignored. While Africa contributes less than 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it stands on the frontline of the economic and social consequences of climate change.

At his keynote presentation on Saturday 3rd December at the third Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD), President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze urged that “negotiators must recognize the critical importance of enabling smallholder farmers to become more resilient to climate change and to grow more food in environmentally sustainable, climate-smart ways.”

Later in the day, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda opened up a side event on behalf of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) which focused on how we can build the resilience of African smallholder farmers in a changing climate. The event highlighted the work of smallholder farmers in Swaziland and how they are coping with the impacts of climate change.

Back in 2002, Swaziland was hit hard by drought. Many smallholder farmers in the region saw their crops destroyed and their livelihoods threatened due to changing weather conditions. Happy Shongwe, a mother of two from Maphumulo in the Lubombo district of Swaziland, was on-site at the event to discuss her experiences as a smallholder farmer who watched her food reserves run dry due to the drought and was left impoverished. Shongwe and others in her community were helped with food vouchers and knowledge on how they could best respond to the drought.

Shongwe realised that planting maize and raising broiler chickens were not viable ways of coping with a changing climate and instead she began planting legumes which proved to be drought resistant. Starting with just one hectare of land, she quickly increased yields and was able to plant three hectares the following season.

Since then, her fate has changed. Shongwe has since registered Hlelile Investments (Pty) Ltd, a company that produces and markets seeds and is now a certified seed producer through the Seed Quality Division of the Ministry of Agriculture. “I now have my own business and have been able to afford to buy a tractor – I have come along way over the past ten years”, said Shongwe at the event.

Sibanda highlighted the importance of labelling and certification from the government:

For a region to be food secure, it needs to be seed secure. We believe in our own farmers; if given the necessary knowledge, they can grow more food. However, there is still a great need for research, technology and to mobilise funding for smallholder farmers in Swaziland, and other regions across Africa.

Measuring the vulnerability of rural households to external shocks

Today, few tools exist that can effectively measure the impact of shocks and stressess on the lives of the poor. By intermittently measuring the livelihood assets owned by a household over a period of time, researchers can determine household vulnerability and provide evidence to inform investment decisions around the design of policy responses and programme interventions aimed at strengthening household resilience.

Along with World Vision, FANRPAN has developed the Household Vulnerability Index (HVI) to measure the vulnerability of rural households to external shocks such as disease outbreaks, extreme weather and other stresses such as food insecurity. Through this approach, households are categorized into three levels of vulnerability, namely low, moderate and high vulnerability. Based on this more targeted classification system, development response packages are formulated to assist the most vulnerable households at the root causes of their vulnerability.

Following the successful piloting of the HVI tool in three countries in Southern Africa (Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe), FANRPAN and World Vision have shared their perspectives on the importance on developing and updating livelihood databases to benchmark livelihoods and provide data for modelling projected changes in livelihoods as a result of climate change.

Speaking at the learning event, Dalton Nxumalo, a Knowledge Management Officer with World Vision Swaziland (who provide funding for the project) noted,

This tool is meant to be a community based tool. The HVI assesses a household’s access to five livelihood assets; natural; physical; financial; human; and social assets and a total of 15 variables are then assessed together and a statistical core is calculated for each household.

Read more about the other learning events at Agriculture and Rural Development Day on its blog.