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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

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

Community Greenhouses are Improving Lives

Juana is a member of a women’s collective greenhouse in her Guatemalan community. But long before she joined the program and began receiving instruction from local partner CIEDEG, she was watching and learning. She is a great example of how our food security programs reach “secondary beneficiaries” – those who are not officially registered, but whose lives improve just by taking note of what their neighbors are doing to grow more nutritious food.

Juana carefully observed how the greenhouses were constructed and saw the ways in which women began to grow a wider variety of foods both under cover and outdoors. She and her husband used their own savings to purchase a sheet of plastic in Guatemala City, and built a smaller version of the community greenhouses right next to their house. She bought some tomato seedlings and started other vegetables from seed in a small area of her greenhouse reserved as a nursery.

Now, in addition to the tender vegetables she grows indoors, Juana is also producing cool-weather veggies on her land, including carrots, broccoli, onion and celery. She was happy to be invited to join the community greenhouse collective as well to take advantage of the opportunity to grow even more food and market some of it along with the women in her collective.

CIEDEG encourages secondary beneficiaries like Juana to participate. It is the organization’s goal to expand access to a variety of healthy foods across the Nebaj area of Guatemala, and to empower families to stay intact by finding ways to earn incomes and flourish in their own villages.  Juana’s enthusiasm, willingness to innovate and success are inspiring others to try their hand at greenhouse production.

Caption: Juana in her greenhouse
Photo credit: Bethany Beachum


Guatemala Nebaj Quetzaltenango 
Led by Church World Service and Local Partner CIEDEG

06/11/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Community Action Plan: A Roadmap to Success

A process of community discernment encouraged by the program helped a village identify … and solve … their biggest obstacle to success: the lack of a road. With a four-mile footpath between the village and the nearest road, it was difficult to get produce to market or reach medical assistance, and impossible to get in or out on any vehicle larger than a motorbike.  Women in single file used to carry market goods on their heads to the road, then wait for a vehicle to come by which would allow them to hitch a ride. There was only one bus that went to town in the morning and came back in the evening.  If they missed it they had to go back home and try again the next day. Produce brokers would sometimes come by and offer to buy products from the waiting women, but at sharply discounted prices. 

So the villagers carefully crafted a community action plan to build a road.  First, they organized into subgroups to focus on specific tasks.  They planned the route, cleared the trees and shrubs, and widened and leveled out the path so vehicles could pass. It took them 3-½ months to complete but now cars and trucks can reach the village! The access opens up opportunities to rent a truck to take goods to market as a cooperative effort, or for people in the community to invest in cars. 

The community recently hired a motorcycle driver to come right to the village to pick up corn for market that they’d shelled as a group. Before the road was completed, he never would have come, or would have demanded a steep fee to leave the main road and take the path to the village. The road constitutes an enormous change for the better, and the community is proud that they made it happen through teamwork.

Caption: Community effort readies shelled corn to be picked up for market

Kenya Magarani
Led by World Renew and Local Partner ADS - Pwani
10 communities, 1,800 households, and 4,836 individuals

04/13/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Training Encouraged and Inspired Me

Like other farmers in the Bangladesh Kendua program area, Monowar says he used to grow only rice.  “We thought that rice was the only crop that we could grow, and that it would save us. But when I joined the farmer group, I learned about the importance of nutrition and decided to commit to nutrition-focused agriculture. After a workshop on kitchen gardening, I started growing vegetables along with my rice.”

Monowar has dedicated almost half of his land to the kitchen garden and has seen his family’s health improve with the variety of vegetables they now enjoy with their rice.  

But he didn’t stop there, as he was eager to learn as much as he could. “The SATHI training program also encouraged and inspired me to do environmentally-friendly agriculture,” he says.

Intrigued when he heard about how composting could improve the quality and quantity of his vegetables, Monowar collected all the necessary raw materials and invited FRB’s and World Renew’s local partner SATHI to conduct the practical training session at his house. He wanted other farmers to understand the importance of using compost and growing vegetables for a diversified diet.

In addition to vegetables commonly used in local dishes – spinach, amaranth, beans, eggplants, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and pumpkins – he’s started growing more unfamiliar ones to sell to a larger market. He received a loan from his farmer group’s savings and loan program to begin producing winter crops, and now grows vegetables year-round.
 
Caption: Monowar working in his kitchen garden.

Bangladesh Kendua program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner SATHI
6 communities, 1,080 households, 5,400 individuals

12/12/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Childhood Malnutrition Drops Dramatically

FRB’s Castrovirreyna program is the only NGO presence in eight remote Andean villages in Peru’s poorest state. At up to 15,000 feet, temperatures are below freezing at night, and hailstorms, floods and droughts are common. Yet the inhabitants are so grateful for the assistance that they quickly put into practice everything they learn. The most remarkable result so far is a dramatic reduction in child malnutrition, from 55% to 22%.

The yield of vegetables from farmer Rubén’s greenhouse is so good he has extra to sell. His organic methods control pests and fungi, and he’s raising disease-free potato seedlings to share with his community. Rubén says, “More potatoes mean more income and a better life for my family.” His children are all in school, and he foresees a brighter future for them.

Mario and Lucía raise guinea pigs and chickens, grow vegetables in their greenhouse for home and market, and plant 100 different varieties of potatoes and tubers. Each has a special flavor, unique nutrients, and traits such as suitability for mashing, baking, adding to soups, or as an entrée, or can withstand drought or excessive rains.

Once Eusebia and Juvenal learned that storing cooking and eating utensils on the floor exposed them to parasitic diseases from their chickens and guinea pigs, they were quick to build recommended shelving. Eusebia says she can’t remember the last time her kids were sick, now that they boil water for drinking and cleaning and keep their utensils stacked in their new cupboard.

When Marcos and his wife, Basilisa, were asked whether the program should invest more in his community or expand to others, Marcos replied, “We’ve already been so blessed.  More people should be blessed like we’ve been.” At a loss for words in Spanish, their second language, to express what the program has meant to them, Marcos and other participants simply say, “Gracias. Gracias. Gracias.”

Pictured: Eusebia with shelving unit


Led by Lutheran World Relief and Local Partner CEDINCO
8 Communities, 112 Households, 557 Individuals

09/26/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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