Project #13625

Help 30 Hungry Villages in Gao-Mali Grow Food NOW!

by Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
Sweet potato field
Sweet potato field

Thank you for your generous support of Food First’s Help Hungry Villages Grow Food Now! Project. Your donation helps ensure that we can continue helping the communities in Gao, Mali.

In the interest of ensuring that your donation has the most impact for the farmers in Mali, we are shifting our fundraising from Global Giving directly to the Food First website. We hope you continue to invest as we move over to a more direct funding mechanism that allows us to give all of your donation directly to the project you care about.

Here is the link:

Just like on Global Giving, we keep up to date information on our website and blog so you can stay informed about this project and the other work that we are doing here at Food First.

Here is an update from the Vice-President of the BERADA campaign, Alhousseini Maiga:

“The Food First-BERADA campaign has been welcomed by all parties involved and people do express their gratitude chiefly when they come together in the market places or in the rice harvest areas. These examples are typical:

  • For example, one of the farmers who benefitted from the seeds campaign declared that he was able to purchase school supplies for his two daughters and his son for the first time in his life. He said:  Thank you to the Food First and BERADA campaign for Gao farmers.
  • Two women who benefitted from the garden seeds campaign declared that they have been able to use part of the money they earned from sales of their vegetables to heal and take care of their daughters who were sick from malaria. That has been a great opportunity for them to provide this care all by themselves.

The Gao villagers hope this cooperation will continue because it is meeting people’s real needs and no doubt, it is consistent with their values, because Food First-BERADA is trying to help them help themselves with dignity.”


We hope that you will continue to donate to the project directly through our website. You can set up monthly donations just like on Global Giving, and we'll be happy to help you with this if you give us a call.

Thank you again for supporting Food First’s project in Gao, Mali.


With gratitude,

Joyce King, Board President

Eric Holt-Giménez, Executive Director

Alexandra Toledo, Development Director


Contact us here:
510-654-4400 x221
This rice field is growing for maturation.
This rice field is growing for maturation.
This rice field is ripe and ready for harvesting.
This rice field is ripe and ready for harvesting.
Rice field after harvesting, only sticks left.
Rice field after harvesting, only sticks left.


Eric and Food First with farmers in Mali
Eric and Food First with farmers in Mali

Tomorrow, your donation to Mexico or Mali will be MATCHED on Global Giving!

Donate up to $1,000 and get a 30% BONUS. That means, a $50 donation is $65 for our project and a $100 donation is $130!

But here’s the catch: The matching funds are first come, first served, and only available until they run out.

The Challenge starts at 9 am Eastern time, 8 am Central time, 7 am Mountain time, and 6 am Pacific time. So, if you are here in California like us, set your alarm and leave your credit card by your bed!

This Bonus Day comes in the middle of Global Food Week of Action, October 12th-19th. Here’s an update about what Food First has in the works for this important week of action.

On Sunday, October 12th, I moderated a panel on The Global Struggle for Food Sovereignty: A Discussion with African Food Leaders & Farmers. This panel formed part of the Africa-US Food Sovereignty Strategy Summit in Seattle to support African farmers’ efforts towards Food Sovereignty and challenge the Gates Foundation’s industrial agricultural programs in the area. These kinds of actions develop international support for farmers like those in Mali that benefit from your donation to our project: Help 30 Villages in Gao-Mali Grow Food NOW!

Monday, October 13th we celebrated Indigenous People’s Day, a re-claimed holiday started in Berkeley as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day. Our work with RICDA, the Indigenous-Farmer Network for Agroecological Development supports farming communities as they produce food, protect agobiodiversity and conserve pollinators across Mexico.

I also presented in The Future of Food webinar on agroecology, speaking to the need for farming in harmony with the environment, just like your donation supports for pollinators and biodiversity in our project: Bring Back Bees to Mexico’s Degraded Farmlands.

Tomorrow evening, Wednesday, October 15th, Food First Board member and longtime Executive Director of Community to Community Development, Rosalinda Guillén, will be awarded the 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize along with the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) of Palestine. Rosalinda’s work with immigrant farm workers represents the vision we have at Food First for a just, sustainable food system.

Here in Oakland, we’ll host a panel on alternative travel as a source for transformative change, thinking deeply about our Food Sovereignty Tours around the world.

World Food Day is Thursday, October 16th, and we will be standing in solidarity with food activists holding events throughout the world to build a more just, sustainable food system.

Stand with us!

In celebration of World Food Day, please make a donation to one of our Global Giving projects on this Bonus Day, Wednesday, October 15th. Your donation will go further for farmers in Mexico and Mali.

Set your alarm now to make your donation starting at 9 am Eastern time, Wednesday, October 15th.

Thank you in advance for your activism and support!


In solidarity,


Eric Holt-Giménez

Executive Director, Food First


P.S. Forward this to a friend to generate more bonus gifts for farmers in Mexico and Mali during the Global Food Week of Action.

Mother and child in Mali
Mother and child in Mali
Gao rice farmer
Gao rice farmer

We are so grateful for your generous support of the Gao, Mali work to provide more food for hungry families.

General Conditions in Gao

Although the occupation is over, people are still living under terrorist threat, with rockets fired into Gao at least once a month. Both electricity and water are still off and on. And sometimes a neighborhood has an entire day without such basic services.

Refugee families, who fled during the occupation, are now continuing to return home. This is putting the town under great pressure to meet the basic needs of a growing population in the absence of many public services.

Women’s Gardens are producing well, thanks to your support

The village women’s organization is very happy to have been able to increase the productivity of their gardens because of the Chiwara water pumps we purchased. Before the pumps there was just one planting season. With these pumps they can grow vegetables throughout the year. In addition to being able to feed their familes healthy food throughout the year, your contributions have allowed them to sell some of their vegetables in the Gao market. Your support has increased the purchasing power of women, allowing them to improve the nutrition and well-being of their families. These women gardeners have expressed their sincere gratitute for your participation in this BERADA/FOOD FIRST food project which has also made it possible for them to increase their family income so that their children can go to school.

Your support has allowed the farmers to explore new ways of growing rice

With your support, all of the villages of Gao received seeds in August of 2013. Because that harvest was not as productive as had been hoped, we have encouraged the farmers to use fish waste as fertilizer. Since the rice plots are next to the Niger River, capturing this now wasted resource makes sense. One of the farmer-fisherman reported that this is the first time anyone has thought about assisting them by providing fishing nets. He cited a Malian Songhoy proverb to make the point that if you put a fishing net in the hands of a Sorko (fisherman), he has his survival kit and he can take his life into his own hands.

Public technical services, including the Regional Office of Fishing, have not yet been re-established since the occupation of this area in 2012. The BERADA project directors have discovered that these fishermen need training to adapt this new technology. The fishermen are looking forward to having the support of extension agents to help with the proper use of fish waste as fertilizer. Your additional support now will help with this training.
The villagers of the Gao, Mali region are enormously grateful for your support, which has enabled them to assist the most vulnerable in their families and, at the same time, improve the nutrition of other families in their community.
Your support is even more urgent today as we have reports, that there is no rain.

Women's garden in Gao, Mali 2013

Since January of 2013, the people of the Gao region of Mali and the Circle of Gao, have been victims of terrorist attacks that have created an acute food crisis. These attacks are occurring on top of the already short supply of food in the region caused by a multi-year drought.

Last summer Food First’s Global Giving donors contributed to Food First’s Global Giving campaign to fund a farming/gardening project, Seeds and Pumps for Gao, Mali, administered by our Mali partner, BERADA.

The 2013 funding provided:

• 150 bags of paddy rice seeds for 30 Gao, Mali villages; and
• 5 Chiwara pumps in 5 women’s vegetable gardens plus seeds for those gardens.

This BERADA report provides the results of that first planting and growing season of 2013-14.

What was the impact on the people of Gao who benefitted from these 150 bags of rice paddy seeds; 5 water hoses installed in the rice fields and 5 Chiwara pumps in the gardens of women's associations?

Each of the 150 bags of rice seed (70 Kgs/bag) seeded 1 hectare of rice paddy. Each cultivated hectare was conservatively estimated to yield approximately 1,000 Kgs of rice, for a total estimate of 150,000 Kgs of paddy rice distributed to the beneficiary villages.

Five of those l hectare fields had two water hoses installed on each hectare. Irrigating the fields with water from the water hoses increased the yield in those fields by 30%. The BERADA survey showed that each water hose installed in a field increased the yield beyond the expected 1,000 kgs per hectare to as high as 1,500 Kgs per hectare for the 5 hectares that had access to this water. This added irrigation allowed the rice farmers to provide an additional 15,000 Kgs of rice to the families of Gao.

The Chiwara pumps that were purchased with our donations increased the yield of vegetables by 50%. Each of the five gardens were planted on one hectare of land. The yield on a one hectare garden is expected to be approximately 1,000 Kgs of vegetables per year depending on seed varieties. The water pumps helped increase the annual harvest up to 1,500 kg in each of the five gardens for a total harvest of 7,500 kg of vegetables for the families of Gao.

Additional outcomes and benefits of this project include:

• Increasing the awareness of farmers and beneficiaries;
• Improving the internal organization and exchange of experiences;
• Quantifiying the payoff of the investment of resources and infrastructure;
• Improving training and information retrieval.


This project initiated and implemented by the NGO BERADA and our partner FOOD FIRST, provided an important contribution to the people in the rural communes of Sonni Ali Ber and Gounzoureye located in the Circle of Gao in the Gao region in Mali (West Africa).

BERADA’s investigators also identified the need to supplement the diet of these communities through fishing, which is actually a complementary activity of these villages supported by this project.

Key lessons for Year Two include:

• A harvest that yielded 150,000 Kgs of paddy rice as a result of 10,500 kg of seeds distributed is significantly lower than an anticipated harvest of 850,000 kgs of rice. This was, in part, due the lack of fertilizer to improve the yield per hectare.

• While the 10 water hoses in the rice fields on 5 hectares increased the production by 50%, it is expected that fertilizer combined with closer supervision could double the production of those 5 hectares.

• It is projected that the associations of women’s gardens could also double their yield with access to more seeds at regular intervals combined with fertilizer.

The farmers and the families of the Gao region of Mali experienced less hunger and benefitted greatly from our donations. A really important and heartwarming outcome of this first year of the seeds and pumps project is that the women’s gardens allowed children—especially girls—to have both the time and the energy to attend school. With additional funding in 2014, we can buy more pumps and seeds to feed more families and get them on more solid economic and social footing.


Continue this project intervention by:

• -Providing more water pumps;
• -Providing a solar pump as a pilot project;
• Providing fishing nets for the fisherman. This will allow them to catch fish to provide needed protein in the diet and, at the same time, use the fish waste fertilizer to improve the performance for each hectare of rice and vegetables;
• Providing enhanced training activities, information and awareness for the beneficiary villages; and
• Supporting exchanges of experience with other projects of this kind at the national level.

Gao rice field 2013
Gao rice field 2013
Gao river rice 2013
Gao river rice 2013
Gao tomatoe harvest 2013
Gao tomatoe harvest 2013
Rice harvesting--near the Niger River, Mali
Rice harvesting--near the Niger River, Mali


I am writing to you today to bring you some great news from Mali… and to ask for your help in obtaining matching funds. I am pleased to announce that a recent donation by a generous American couple has allowed BERADA to purchase fishnets for the 5 villages of Gao that are currently participating in the Gao Seeds & Water pumps project. Dr. Hassimi O. Maiga, President of BERADA reports that this donation will allow these villagers to enrich their diet of rice and vegetables by including some fish. BERADA will train these fishermen to save the fish remains for the farmers so that this valuable fertilizer can also be used by the farmers to increase the productivity of their vegetable beds.

I want to also remind you that there are 25 other villages of Gao that have yet to benefit from access to seeds, pumps and fishnets. As we move into our second year of the Help 30 Hungry Villages in Gao-Mali Grow Food NOW!, conflict still dominates this region of northern Mali, making it difficult for the villagers who did not flee due to the fighting to find enough to eat.

Please forward this message to your facebook friends and your e-mail list to help the hungry. You can invite them to make a donation in honor of their special valentine at:

Now is a great time to consider making a generous donation yourself so that we can purchase vegetable and rice seeds for the coming season. We would also like to purchase two more water pumps to bring more water from the Niger River to the garden beds, plus five more fishing nets.

Today, February 12, 2014 starting at 9 A.M. EST your donation will be matched. Our goal for today is to raise $2,000. If you live in the Pacific time zone, that start time is 6 A.M.

Global Giving is providing $75,000 for this matching campaign in which all Global Giving projects can participate. So act now so that our Gao, Mali project can get some matching funds. Thanks so much for caring enough to allow these farmers to grow food for their families and neighbors.


PS. If you are not sure what time to make this donation on Wednesday, February 12, check this clock:


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Organization Information

Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy

Location: Oakland, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
Project Leader:
Eric Holt-Gimenez
Executive Director
Oakland, CA Mali

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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