maize

Encouraging and Empowering Farmers

Several farmers participating in the Zambia Northwest program recently stepped forward to share their results:

John: “My standard of living has improved since I’ve been applying the conservation farming methods I’ve learned. This means my wife and I can put more food on the table for our six children than ever before, and I’m able to pay school fees for all of them.”

Obieness: “My life has changed for the better since I started getting conservation agriculture training.  I’m a widow with seven children, and life has been a challenge for me. But after learning more appropriate ways to farm, I’m expecting good yields on my maize and groundnuts (peanuts) this year. For the first time in my life, my community respects me as a responsible and caring parent because I am able to provide for my family.  What a proud mother I am!”

Simeon: “This empowerment program has made me appreciate farming so much more, thanks to everything I’ve learned about conservation agriculture.  Through mulching and using environmentally friendly ways to manage pests, I’ve harvested more.  My successes gave me the confidence to enlarge my maize field, and I even added a new field of cassava. Because we have more to eat and I can make money from selling our excess, I feel like a person who has found a lucrative new job.”

Clara: “As a widow taking care of six orphans in addition to my son, I’m amazed and proud that I am standing on my own two feet where farming is concerned. I am thankful for all the farming instruction and support I’ve received from the staff. I’ve learned how to fertilize my fields with manure tea (liquid manure) and improved my yields of maize and groundnuts with a number of other practices that were new to me. The NCM team has visited me on many occasions to encourage me and suggest corrections when things weren’t going as planned. My yields improved and allowed me to make more money from selling what we didn’t need to eat just as I had to pay for an operation for my son.” 

Caption: Preparing fields

Zambia Northwest Program
Led by Nazarene Compassionate Ministries

06/07/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

A-maize-ing Results: “My Family is Better off All Around”

At the close of this program in Timor Leste’s Viqueque region, Manuel says his family is better off all around. “We don’t have to buy as much in the market so it’s a saving for us. And, a few months ago, I sold some of my harvest and earned enough to cover my family’s basic needs. I also bought some equipment to improve and expand my planting area,” he says.

Another farmer, who only used to be able to grow enough for five months, says, “Nearly a year after harvest, we still have food.”

Manuel says he is getting greater yields of improved-quality maize and has learned to dry it and protect it from pests and mold by storing it in airtight containers like water bottles. Besides maize and rice, he plants a wider variety of foods – beans, taro root, cassava, papaya – for better nutrition.

According to the program’s final report, all of the farmers who took part in the training are using one or more of the environmentally-friendly farming techniques they learned.  At the start of the program, maize yielded around 1,036 pounds per hectare (2.5 acres). Everyone met or exceeded the target of 1,343 lbs./hectare, some harvesting as much as 2,320. And, by drying and storing maize in airtight containers – instead of hanging it in unprotected sheaves outdoors – their losses to mold and pests are minimal.

Local partner staff and extension workers from the Ministry of Agriculture live and farm in the same villages as program participants, and will continue to model improved farming and storage techniques on their own land. The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to assist farmers with seed, training, moisture testing and new ideas.

Caption: Manuel’s great results from improved seed and environmentally-friendly farming

Timor Leste Viqueque Program
Led by Catholic Relief Services and Local Partner Fraterna
5 communities, 380 households, 3,268 individuals


03/02/2018 | 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

Warming Trend: Winter Crops Increase Family Food Security

Tam and Oanh are neighbors and close friends whose small fields are side by side. Every day, when one of the women is ready to work on her field, she calls to her friend and they walk to their plots together. Mixed into their conversations about work, family, weather and more are the sustainable farming techniques they’ve learned through FRB’s Vietnam Tan Son program.

They participated in a training course on planting crops that would perform well in the climate and soil conditions of the winter season when, after two harvests, farmers traditionally let their fields lay fallow. Tam and Oanh agreed that the practice wasted precious resources that could allow them to feed their families without having to work on someone else’s land for cash.

The farmers were encouraged to experiment with rotational cultivation and increase the variety and number of crops in order to get more food and prevent soil diseases. After training, some pilot households received seed. Tam and Oanh were not on the pilot list, but their interest was high enough that they each bought seeds and committed to following what they learned at the training.

Oanh chose to grow sweet potatoes. Tam chose corn. Last year, Tam and Oanh were able to harvest their fields three times. By adding winter crops, their families did not suffer a food shortage. Tam notes, “We’ll plant winter crops next year. Having corn in winter makes us feel warm in our stomachs.”

The Tan Son program will continue to use agricultural models to evaluate and promote the effectiveness of different crops and farming techniques. Training activities not only help people in difficult areas achieve sustainable food security, they promote good relationships within the community.

Vietnam Tan Son encompasses 6 communities, 512 households, and 2,212 individuals

05/08/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

In Uganda, a gender-equitable approach to farming

FRB’s Uganda-Busoga program is based on the premise that the food security of smallholder maize farmers increases when husbands and wives learn to work together toward the goal of increasing their maize production. Traditionally, women and men have farmed separately, with women’s efforts going toward caring for the whole family, and men raising money that sometimes went to the family but most often went to meet their individual needs. This program encourages both spouses to think about the family as a unit that needs to be cared for first.

04/21/2014 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Four Malawian Farmers Share Their Success Stories

FRB’s Malawi-Chingale program offers extension services and training for crop production, crop diversification, small-scale irrigation, land resource management, and livestock restocking to a community devastated by the 2006 food crisis and high rates of HIV/AIDS. Participants learn appropriate farming practices, and receive further instruction on the environment, health, child nutrition, HIV/AIDS education, community-based child care, and adult literacy.

Here, four farmers tell how the program has helped them improve their lives

11/25/2013 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Mexican Pozol Recipe: are you game?

Newsletter: 

Our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers were often faced with imprecise recipes that presumed they knew a lot about what they were doing before they even started, such as what the dish was supposed to look like and taste like. FRB received a charming recipe of this type from one of our partners in Mexico for a corn-based refreshment called "pozol." Are you willing to try it? Hint: it’s not made with sweet corn!

05/15/2013 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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