Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables

by Seed Programs International
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Villagers receiving seeds at training
Villagers receiving seeds at training

Hi folks, 

Recently, we had the privilege of partnering with AMPATH to introduce vegetable farming to Group Integrated Savings and Health Empowerment (GISHE) members in western Kenya. Both GISHE and AMPATH are supporting the new Universal Health Coverage initiatives in Busia County. Our first quarter reports are in, and we are happy to announce several successful activities from the program. 

At the beginning of 2021, Group Empowerment Service providers (GESPS) members were debriefed on the Seed Project International program. AMPATH, Amiran, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health provided facilitators to train GESPS participants and familiarize them with vegetable farming needs. Then, 10 demo sites were selected to help model best practices and gain practical experience farming. The nearly 600 beneficiaries selected by AMPATH’s Social Behavioral Team (SBT) will primarily be maintaining a sack garden. We supplied spinach, onion, tomato, watermelon, capsicum, kale and coriander seeds to AMPATH and their training officers who then distributed the seeds to the beneficiaries. 

There were some minor setbacks like delays in availing seeds to beneficiaries, a shortage in choice of seeds, and a limited number of seeds, however, we plan on bridging the gap quickly. In the next quarter, we plan on helping establish the demo plots by availing necessary equipment, transplanting seeds from nurseries, distributing vertical sacks, and keeping up-to-date with the team’s progress. 

Two participants have shared their stories about the impact of our blossoming program. The first comes from Ester, a founding member of Mama Murindi’s self-help group, in the surrounding village. In 2015 Ester started agribusiness activities with the help of her husband and children but reported having some difficulties managing crops. She knew she needed training but her opportunities were limited until AMPATH organized their vegetable garden training. She believes that through the best practices training she received she is better equipped to manage her vegetable crops and tackle disease/pest damage. When our seeds were delivered mid-April, Ester was one of our beneficiaries who received the seeds at no cost. Now, she can provide extra nutrition to her family and increase her business’s profits.  

Our second perspective comes from Abdalla, a GISHE group trainer and farmer in Makunda village. He is also one of the farmers who received tomato, onion, kale, coriander, capsicum, watermelon and spinach seeds. Abdalla praises the vegetable gardening training for supporting him and his livelihood. He has also voiced concern about crop management causing problems with his production and sales. Abdalla cites the virtual Integrated Pest Management training, which provided pesticide-free avenues for crop protection, as being particularly useful and he plans to incorporate it on his farm. Producing safe, healthy crops for himself and the market enable him, like Ester, to ensure his family and community are well-nourished. Taking his skills further, as an experienced leader and trainer, Abdalla has offered to host a demo plot to help support other beneficiaries. He prepared the seed beds by applying the skills he learned at the January training. 

New projects like our partnership with AMPATH are made possible by your continued support. We would like to extend a sincere thank you for your help to enable our team to make a difference in the lives of Abdalla, Ester, and nearly 600 others through this program alone.  

-- The SPI Team

Abdallah preparing his seed bed
Abdallah preparing his seed bed
Agatha in front of her newly planted land plot
Agatha in front of her newly planted land plot
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Buzunesh in garden
Buzunesh in garden

Hi all!

Greetings from Ethiopia, where we work with GrowEastAfrica to reduce hunger and malnutrition, while also providing women with income to keep their children in school and increase their financial stability. Currently, our focus is on improving the lives of internally displaced persons through active women’s groups. We’d like to introduce you to Buzunesh, one of the women of the Birhan Ladies Group.

Before, Buzunesh and her husband, Oume, worked on the family farm growing teff, beans, and wheat. She sold excess cereals, like teff, at the local market, but had neither the training nor the support to expand her trade. Money was tight on a good day with a good harvest, and Buzunesh, like many women like her, knew that one poor harvest–due to missed rains, grazing cattle, or a rise in internal conflict–could easily put her and her family in a dire situation.

After being approached by her community coordinator, Buzunesh joined the Birhan Ladies Group with the hope of expanding opportunities for herself, her husband, and their six children. Since joining the group, Buzunesh has not only received training for new skillsets, but the camaraderie of a group of like-minded women all trying to do right by their families with the resources they have. Now, Buzunesh has worked with the group to cultivate her vegetable and quinoa farming skills, and has been a part of trainings that taught her important skills in market development approach and bookkeeping.

That’s not all. GEA, a local organization driven by local solutions, ensures that every training is holistic and all-encompassing. In addition to market development and bookkeeping, as well as basics in diversifying crop types, Buzunesh also learned to incorporate modern drip irrigation systems and solar energy into her farm. Her farm has expanded to include tomatoes, kale, round head cabbage, onions, peppers and carrots. With a growing family, she values the added nutrition and food security the new crops provide her and her children. 

Her market endeavours have expanded too: she trades at fruit stands and prepares local drinks as a value-added agricultural product, which brings her more income than the base ingredient ever could. This is made possible by collaborating with the fellow women in her group and a GEA program which matches their investment dividends. For example, last year members contributed 1,000 Birrs ($21) each to a fund that GEA matched, giving the group a total of 10,000 Birrs ($214!) to invest in their community. After selling teff in the local market, their fund grew to 13,000 Birrs, and is projected to grow. This projection is in part due to the “Equibb” savings plan, where members save 100 Birrs a week to set aside for investments. With their newfound financial abundance, Buzunesh and her women’s group are excited to expand their vegetable and grain production. 

The women’s group has been a smashing success, and it’s safe to say that the women are prepared to build off that success. With the group now having the skills to meet and adapt to problems as they come–from market changes to climate variability–the women have a well-founded sense of optimism for their futures. For example, Buzunesh explained to us that while the 2020 floods ruined their teff and quinoa crops, they were able to shift gears and invest their time and energy into preserving their vegetable fields. This hard work paid off, and shows that crop diversification leads to great resilience, as now they have multiple avenues for increasing successful seasons. 

These programs are able to continue in part thanks to donors like you. On behalf of Buzunesh, the Birhan Ladies Group, GrowEastAfrica, and our team here at Seed Programs International, thank you for your support. We hope you’ll continue on this journey together, to provide seeds of change to communities throughout the world.

Young plants
Young plants
Birhan Ladies Group
Birhan Ladies Group
Tomato saplings
Tomato saplings
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Carrot harvest
Carrot harvest

Hi there folks, 

This project update comes from our partners at Preserve International and the Swinga Women’s Group. They are working to grow vegetables from SPI seeds for their community in Yumbe, Uganda. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they are facing several challenges in accomplishing their goal of growing and dehydrating vegetables and fruits for their community.

Currently, Preserve International and the Swinga Women’s Group are still navigating the realities of living and working in a pandemic, such as limited access to supplies and restrictions on movement. Thankfully, they received training using the Sparky Dryer, and payment for their work so far. Because of COVID-19, they are moving towards more income-producing activities, to help improve local economic conditions.

While Preserve International and the Swinga Women’s Group faced challenges with their initial goals and objectives, they are still making great progress. They aren’t just growing vegetables and combating food insecurity and malnutrition, but creating an economic boost for Yumbe. Growing these vegetables gives the group more independence as they contribute greatly to their community. Even early on, the economic impact that growing these vegetables had was massive, helping women and girls in the community continue with their education, and preventing early marriage. 

Slowly but surely, the Swinga Women’s Group reached out to other women’s groups in local communities nearby and developed a support network dedicated to agricultural pursuits. Encouraging the autonomy of these women, whether it’s through growing vegetables or something else entirely, is a great thing. Preserve International said the partnership with the Swinga women’s group grew through these difficult times. They are looking forward to working with them and other women’s groups for years to come.

That being said, the Swinga Women’s Group is still working hard to accomplish their original goals, including becoming self-sustainable with their agriculture. The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting Uganda and the rest of Africa, so unfortunately, it may be awhile until self-sustainability is reached. However, they are going to keep working and learning, so that they eventually end food insecurity and malnutrition in their community. SPI looks forward to continuing to work with them and thanks donors like you for your support. 

— The SPI Team

Tilling garden
Tilling garden
Working in rows
Working in rows
Platning seeds
Platning seeds
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Catarina in the garden
Catarina in the garden

Hi folks,

This month’s update comes from our longtime partnership with Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala, who you may remember from our {previous report}. Their newest project, Calanté Produces, aims to promote the livelihoods and nutrition of women and their families in poverty conditions through the growing and selling of vegetables. They aim to accomplish this with the construction of a 580 sq. ft. greenhouse, distribution of seeds, and training in biopreparations and agroecology for soil conservation and increased vegetable production. 

Although the project suffered some initial setbacks from COVID-19 and tropical storms Eta and Iota, Habitat has begun construction of the greenhouse. In the meantime, the 15 families participating in the Calanté Produces project are looking at ways to incorporate the vegetables into their diets and market the harvest to sell locally.

During this initial phase, Habitat Guatemala interviewed the mothers involved to learn their perception of the project. The mothers responded positively and were excited about the addition of the greenhouse. 

Catarina:Looking Forward to Tomatoes

Catarina lives with her husband Miguel, and their three children, María, Juan, and Andrés in the community of Calanté, Uspantán. Miguel works in agriculture, and while Catarina is the main caregiver, she is also very involved in the community garden and the greenhouse. Catarina became involved with Habitat Guatemala five years ago during their Family Garden Project.   During the interview, she proudly walks through the community garden, which is filled with a variety of different vegetables. 

“Since we started our family garden, and also by being part of the community garden, we have learned new ways to harvest different vegetables. Most of what we harvest is what we eat at home. I feel happy to be a part of this project, and to have the knowledge to prepare different vegetables for my kids, too.” 

To our donors, Catarina would like to express, 

“We are very grateful for the donation to build the greenhouse! We are looking forward to the greenhouse, as we would like to harvest tomatoes. Before, because of the weather, we could not harvest them in our gardens. Now, the idea is to not buy them anymore. Thank you for thinking about us, for your support.”

Maria: Awaiting Sweet Peppers

María lives with her husband Diego, and their three children, Rosy, Juan Miguel, and Juana in the community of Calanté, Uspantán. Diego works in the city hall, while María takes care of the children. She is also very involved in the community garden and the greenhouse. 

“Before being a part of this project, our children did not receive enough food to keep them nourished. Since we started our family garden, we now have more variety and their health has improved.

With the greenhouse we are going to improve even more, because we are going to be able to grow tomatoes and sweet pepper. Our community is very cold. I have tried to harvest tomatoes and peppers before, but the cold weather did not allow for them to grow. With the green house, we will be able to produce these for ourselves, saving money that we would normally spend at the market.” 

She continues, 

“We are going to improve our health by harvesting more vegetables. And without any chemicals, everything is organic. We are happy to be a part of this project. Thank you for your  support, for supporting our community that needs it very much!” 

In summary, the Calanté Produces project has been an opportunity for the community to learn the importance of creating livelihoods and promoting nutrition. The families participating in this project can reinvest the profits in garden production while adding to their personal savings. This model allows families to reinvest in themselves and their community, improving their living conditions in a progressive way.

From the participants of Calanté Produces, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala, and Seed Programs International, thank you for your support. 

-the SPI Team

Maria at the greenhouse site
Maria at the greenhouse site
Carrying supplies
Carrying supplies
Greenhouse construction
Greenhouse construction
Radishes from the community garden
Radishes from the community garden
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Birhan Ladies in the rain
Birhan Ladies in the rain

Hi folks, 

This month’s update comes from GrowEastAfrica, our partners in Ethiopia. If their name sounds familiar, that’s becausewe’ve been working with them since 2016 back when they were DBCO, andwe’ve shared some of their story before.

Thanks to GlobalGiving partners, GrowEastAfrica and Seed Programs International are undertaking a project in the Burji District of Ethiopia to implement sustainable processes that improve the livelihoods of women who are establishing new livelihoods after being displaced by violence. Their current project, Birhan Vegetables & Pulse Producers & Supply Cooperative, is also known as the Birhan Ladies Group. 

The Birhan Ladies Group is a fifty-member women’s farming cooperative that was formed after 2,000 refugee families relocated near the town of Mega in southern Ethiopia. The refugee families—all farmers—fled their homes to escape inter-ethnic clashes between two Oromo tribes, the larger Borana tribe and smaller Burji tribe. The Borana are pastoralists, skilled at animal production and its derivative products, while the Burji are farmers who typically produce grains for their diet. For over two centuries, these two tribes co-existed peacefully, relying on one another for commerce and community. 

In 2014, the Burji formed a coalition party that defeated the ruling Borana candidates. In retaliation, the Borana violently forced Burji families off the Ethiopian and Kenyan sides of their land. Burji families fled, leaving their farms and animals behind. Some lost their lives. Families traveled 200 miles to take shelter in the Burji District, their ancestral home. Since then, about half of the refugee families have returned to their former homes, while others remained in the Burji District to start new lives — like the Birhan Ladies Group who are regaining power over their own lives through this project.

In the first phase of this project, the Birhan Ladies learned to farm vegetables, teff, and quinoa on 4.5 hectares of leased land. They prepared the land based on knowledge they gained from GEA training that supplemented their traditional knowledge, sowed their seeds, and tended the subsequent plants with care. After the harvest, food was shared among members and their families, and the remaining produce was sold at the local and surrounding markets. Each harvest not only provides members of the cooperative with more food, but that food is nutritionally diverse. Nutritional diversity is important for providing a more balanced diet for their family's—and the community’s—health and well-being.

However, the project is not without challenges. Unexpected and continuous heavy rain caused seed losses and waterlogging of sapling plants, ultimately resulting in crop loss. COVID-19 restrictions further stressed the group and community, and strained the group’s cooperative efforts. The GrowEastAfrica team quickly implemented training that mitigated the environmental and social stressors and developed a strategy to minimize the impact of water stagnation and waterlogging on the farm. The farmers dug new drainage ditches to divert excess water from the crops and implemented COVID safety standards on the farm to continue their work. 

With GrowEastAfrica’s assistance and the perseverance of the Birhan Ladies, the success of their project remains steady. Crop yields are projected to increase from previous years and community nutrition is increasing. A key to this success is the Birhan Ladies’ confidence. GrowEastAfrica reports:

“The Birhan Ladies have reported improved self-respect and self-reliance. They have improved their status among the community—as producers, rather than recipients of aid. Their model has generated interest in farming, positioning them as local entrepreneurs and trainers.“

Donors like you make continued progress possible. We look forward to the Birhan Ladies’ bright future and sharing their updates with you as they continue to grow. From GrowEastAfrica, the Birhan’s Ladies Group, and Seed Programs International, thank you.

- The SPI Team 

Pepper harvest
Pepper harvest
Birhan Ladies with cabbage
Birhan Ladies with cabbage
Carrot patch in the rain
Carrot patch in the rain
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Organization Information

Seed Programs International

Location: Asheville, NC - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Greg Bonin
Asheville, NC United States
$111,447 raised of $124,700 goal
 
1,816 donations
$13,253 to go
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