Foods Resource Bank Blog

Amaranth’s Nutritional Value is Restoring Health

Phiona’s involvement in the Kabale food security program was a turning point in her life when she learned to grow, cook and eat amaranth. As a farmer living with HIV who was frequently sick from infections due to poor nutrition, her ability to work was severely affected.

Phiona says, “Two years ago, I lost 75 pounds, my white blood cell count was very low, and I didn’t have much energy for farming, even though I depend on farming as my sole livelihood and to care for my child.”

She managed to attend training on growing and cooking amaranth and received seeds to plant.  As soon as her amaranth leaves turned green, she started eating them as a cooked vegetable similar to spinach, and began to feel stronger. Her health continued to improve when she added the grain to her diet.

Phiona’s face lit up when she said, “When I began to eat amaranth, my energy was restored, and my life turned completely around! My weight’s back up to normal, and my blood cell count has more than doubled. I like amaranth best when it’s popped first; then I stone grind it into flour.  I mix some of the flour into whatever food I eat, or add it to maize or millet flours for porridge and bread. It is delicious!”

Amaranth has been shown to improve nutrient intake and white blood cell counts, so local partner PAG South Western Uganda continues to promote its use, especially among farmers affected by HIV and AIDS.

Caption: A healthy Phiona with amaranth plants

Uganda Kabale Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner PAG South Western Uganda

Note: Phiona gave her permission to reveal her HIV status in this story

10/12/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Despite Danger, Staff & Participants Carry On

Even with the real and present danger of rebel groups storming the town of Gamboula and surrounding areas for many months, courageous program participants and the staff of local partner ACET have managed to find ways to carry on.
 
With the exception of the cattle program – the animals are a significant investment and are at high risk of being stolen – most other activities have made progress. The tree nursery, EDEN, raises and sells a variety of fruit and agroforestry trees, and also sells fruit from the mature trees for resale.   Training and monitoring on vegetable gardening, peanut farming, fish farming, and organizing co-ops and self-help groups have all seen good results as well.

Five new farmer co-ops with self-help and savings-and-loan components got off the ground this year and are working at getting their bylaws and government registrations taken care of.

Level-headed staff even found a work-around for processing palm nuts into oil for bottling and sale.  With people fleeing the area for stretches of time, it was hard to find laborers to do the work. Instead, staff is cutting the palm heads off the trees and selling them to women to process at home.  As Anick reports, “I’m able to take care of my four children thanks to the small garden work I have here at the ACET farm. I’ve even started a little business. I buy palm heads from ACET. Once I extract the oil, I sell a part of it so I have money to buy soap, salt, kerosene, and medicine and to cover my children’s needs. We use the other part for cooking, and sometimes my neighbors come to ask me for some for their families. The palm oil is rich, and less expensive than the peanut oil from Cameroon that is not available to the poor.”

Caption: Children block the view of sacks filled with a new farmer group’s first peanut harvest

CAR Gamboula Program
Led by Evangelical Covenant Church/Covenant World Relief and Local Partner ACET

10/09/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Community Inspired by Demo Plots

The 94 farmers trained so far in this new program said that what convinced them to sign up for conservation agriculture (CA) training was seeing the healthy green sorghum and beans in the program’s demonstration plots. The program conducted an awareness campaign prior to training by setting up demo plots in the villages.

When farmers were invited to compare the CA plots with neighboring fields, the sorghum was tall and about ready to tassel, and the lablab beans used as a cover crop to retain moisture and fix nitrogen in the soil were green and healthy-looking.  It was easy to see at a glance that the CA crops were in much better shape, so the farmers wanted to learn how to replicate those results.

The program area was chosen because of widespread food insecurity due to low crop yields from poor soils, low rainfall, and insect damage after harvest. The first group of 94 farmers has been trained in such CA practices as minimum tillage, intercropping, crop rotation, cover crops and mulching, all of which improve the soil and retain moisture. They are planning to use CA on their home plots at the start of the coming rainy season, and will receive further training on airtight grain storage and growing vegetables in their yards. The vegetables will supply much-needed food and increase nutritional diversity during the dry season when food is scarce.

Future training sessions will focus on establishing clean sources of drinking water and small- scale irrigation options for watering the kitchen gardens.

Caption: Farmers Daniel and Grace pose by a demo plot of very healthy sorghum

Tanzania Chamwino Program         
Led by Mennonite Central Committee and Local Partner Diocese of Central Tanganyika (DCT)
Story based on a report by Musa Chilemu. Photo by Lister Nyang’anyi.

 

09/28/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Out of Debt After Two Years of Environmentally-Friendly Farming

Mukesh, a young farmer who was saddled with an inherited debt and heavy family responsibilities, has paid off all his financial obligations with profits from his successful farm. He was able to celebrate this amazing achievement after two years, thanks to ag training and support he received from the program.

Mukesh and his wife, Jeetni, live with his grandfather, a brother, and their small son. Mukesh was six months old when his mother died and his father abandoned him, leaving him to live with his grandfather along with an unpaid debt for the purchase of a tractor. The grandfather continued to pay off the loan while teaching Mukesh about farming, and was able to send him to school until the seventh grade. When his grandfather grew too old to farm entirely by himself, Mukesh quit school to help him.

At 19, Mukesh married Jeetni and assumed responsibility for the farm and loan in addition to his family obligations, but by then the interest was so large that he struggled to keep up.

Around that time, the Bhatigachh program started helping farmers in his village, training them on growing vegetables, making their own organic fertilizer, insecticide, and pesticide, and how to irrigate their crops. Mukesh was glad to learn sustainable ways to improve his farming, grow a wider variety of vegetables, and market them locally. He’s leased 1.25 acres of land, and grows everything from leafy vegetables and gourds to tomatoes, chilies, okra, radish, cauliflower and beans. His monthly profits quickly allowed him to pay down the old loan, and within two years he was out of debt.

He is happy and thankful for the program, which came just at the right time when he was overwhelmed with problems.  Says Mukesh, “I am so grateful for your help.”

Caption: A smiling Mukesh harvests gourds destined for market

Nepal Bhatigachh program
Led by Mennonite Central Committee with Local Partner BICWS

09/26/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Life-Changing Ag Training

When Thoeun decided to take advantage of an opportunity to receive training on environmentally-friendly agriculture and raising animals organized by the Cambodia South program, she had no idea how much her life would change for the better. She was an ordinary Cambodian farmer who relied on growing rice to feed her family while her husband migrated to the city to work in the construction sector. Like many other families, theirs didn’t earn enough to support themselves. Her children did not go to school regularly because they were busy looking for crabs and snails in the fields to supplement their limited diet.

Determined to learn what she could, she took the instruction seriously.  She immediately began growing vegetables, using natural fertilizers, and raising a few chickens. She worked so hard that she was selected to become a “multi-purpose farmer.”  This meant receiving extra support and training so she could test new crops, varieties, and production-management techniques, then share what she learned with her neighbors. She put into practice whatever she learned, expanded her vegetable plot, and increased the number of chickens she raised. Now she not only produces enough to meet her family’s needs, but has extra to sell.

Because of her success, her husband was able to quit his job in the city and now helps her with the farm work. Her children are going to school regularly and no longer need to forage for food. Thoeun shows a high level of commitment to working hard on her farm and to teaching others in her community so that they, too, can not only grow enough to become food secure, but to thrive.

Caption: Thoeun on her multi-purpose farm plot

Cambodia South Program
Led by World Renew

09/13/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Transforming Challenges into Opportunities

“Being members of a farmers’ group and saving money with them has transformed my family’s challenges into opportunities,” says Ouga, an elderly farmer who participates in the Uganda Teso program.

Ouga and his wife, Janet, have ten children. They joined a farmers’ group in 2016 to receive training on a variety of sustainable agricultural practices. As their tomatoes, maize and cassava started yielding more, they began saving money with other members through the group’s Village Savings and Lending Association.

“In the first year, we just saved a little money. What opened our eyes was that the members who had saved more received a substantial amount of money as a dividend at the end of the cycle! In fact, they were even able to buy cattle!”

Seeing their fellow farmers’ success triggered Ouga and Janet’s desire to put away more money. At the end of the second-year payout cycle, Ouga’s family received enough to buy a bull for plowing.

“That same year, we got a loan from the group and purchased doors and windows for the house we were constructing as a family,” Ouga said. “We are also now able to pay school fees and cover other expenses. For so many years – even into my old age – I have struggled to provide for my family, with little and sometimes no success. Now I realize it was mainly because of my ignorance and sticking to traditional thinking and practices,” he says.

Caption: Janet and Ouga harvesting cassava

Uganda Teso Program
Led by World Renew and local partner PAG KIDO

08/28/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

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

Villagers’ Own Financial Institution Empowers Small Business Owners

How did Mrs. Kache get to be known as “The business lady from Kadongoleni Village?” She tells her story:

“I am very grateful for all the help I’ve received in unleashing my potential. When our village started its own finance association two years ago, I joined so I could start saving money to assist my husband with household expenses. He is a farmer, and also works as a day laborer on other people’s farms. Money is tight.  We have two children in secondary school and four in primary, and even with support from the government we couldn’t make ends meet.

“I decided to open a small bakery business. With my first loan, I bought the equipment I needed to make buns and sell them from my home.  When I started receiving orders from two hotels in Garashi Centre, the nearby city, I realized I had a full-fledged business. This allowed me to repay my loan very quickly.

“I took out another loan to grow the business by providing other items like salt, tea, coconut, and sometimes flour in addition to the buns I sold from home. Since then, I have been able to pay for my children’s secondary school education and cover other basic needs at home. My hope now is to borrow enough to build a kiosk to sell buns at the Garashi Trading Centre. That market is much larger than the one in my village.”

Caption: Mrs. Kache (in doorway) and her home bakery and grocery business

Kenya Magarini Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner ADS Pwani

07/09/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Mushroom Growing Produces A Reliable Cash Flow

Kunthea says, “My husband and I decided to invest in a mushroom grow house after seeing how my aunt’s family situation improved when she started growing mushrooms. We own a little over an acre of land, and rent 2.5 more. We farm rice during the rainy season, and after harvest, I grow mung beans. Even though my husband worked as a waiter during the wedding season, we never seemed to have enough money. I would have to take out a loan to buy seed, and sometimes even had to sell our rice so we could buy other foods we needed.  Now that we are growing mushrooms, our situation is improving.  My husband is spending more time helping with the business, and we plan to add a second grow house soon.”

World Hope International promotes mushroom growing as a way for smallholder farmers, particularly women, to break the cycle of poverty. The program launched a business called Thera Metrey (“Compassionate Earth”) to sort and market the fungi in the capital city, Phnom Penh. Families are earning enough money so that, in many cases, the men no longer have to migrate for work or hold multiple jobs.

Another farmer, Chheat, speaks for other mushroom farmers when he says, “We are happy about the way this mushroom project is developing our community. We don’t need to leave to work far from home now, and because of Thera Metrey, we don’t have to worry about finding a market for our mushrooms.”

Caption: Kunthea and family in front of their mushroom grow house

Cambodia East Program
Led by World Hope International

 

06/18/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Keeping Track of Expenses Leads to Profits

Dimnoré is finally getting ahead, thanks to putting into practice what she learned from the program about “SMART” marketing goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based). It was only when she learned how to keep track of her small business expenses that she realized she’d doing a great deal of work for not much profit, and how to do better.

Dimnoré belongs to a Savings and Internal Lending group.  She took out a small loan to buy néré tree seeds to start making and selling soumbala (a fermented, protein-rich condiment, sold in balls or patties and used in a variety of dishes across Africa). Her original goal was at least to repay what she’d borrowed, plus interest. With her loan of $45 she grossed $54, and felt she’d gained, but when she learned how to subtract expenses, she was shocked that she’d netted only 95 cents. Or, as she put it, “I realized I was gaining nothing but suffering from all my work.”

Since then, she keeps track of all her costs, and is always finding ways cut down on cash outlays.  For instance, instead of spending money on public transportation and the day’s food to buy bags of seed at the city market, she asks a friend who is going anyway to get them for her. With her newfound earnings she’s been able to pay off her loan and has bought sheep to fatten for sale. She feels she’s becoming a SMART business woman, indeed!

Caption: Fattening sheep for resale

Burkina Faso Namentenga Program
Led by Catholic Relief Services

06/13/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More