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
Joy Women's Group
Joy Women's Group

Did you know that globally, over one third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted? In developing agricultural communities this statistic can reach over 75 percent of a farmer’s yield. This difference in percentage is due to a surplus of crops in the market during harvest season and a lack of capacity to safely and reliably preserve the produce beyond the harvest season. Food that cannot be eaten or sold goes to waste. The dry season is often referred to as the hunger season, or lean season, in which children and adults experience seasonal wasting (loss of body mass) which often leads to permanent stunting. Crops and the income earned by selling the crops at market are meant to last farmers and their families through the dry season and into the next harvest. This season between harvests, can be a dangerous period of time when the food and profits from the harvest have been exhausted and rural farming communities struggle with poverty, malnutrition, and other afflictions stemming from food insecurity.

In 2022, Seed Programs International partnered with Preserve International to work with four women's farm groups in Yumbe, Uganda. The women participants all currently reside in the Bidi Bidi Refugee settlement, which is the largest refugee settlement in Uganda. Women in the refugee settlement often lack basic necessities such as food, health care, psychological care, education, and opportunities to work. Many are dependent on food rations. This partner program aims to train the women in agriculture, food preservation, and marketing skills to empower the women to grow their food, preserve it for sustenance and sale in the dry season, and earn an income.

Thus far in 2022 two women's groups, with a total of 50 women, have started work: the Saalama Women's Farm Group and the Joy Women's Farm Group. They received five outreach trainings, grew okra, cowpea, kale, jute mallow, and tomato, and received farming resources such as rope and watering cans. The women were also given sparky dryers to preserve the food that was not consumed or sold at market. Sparky dryers are an invention local to Uganda that dehydrates food and runs on biofuel. In 2023, work with these two women's groups will continue and two additional women's groups will join the program.

Thank you for joining and supporting this work. We could not do it without you! Stay tuned for additional program updates!

Saalama Women's Group
Saalama Women's Group
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Women in Senegal receiving tree seedlings
Women in Senegal receiving tree seedlings

At Seed Programs International, one of our primary foci is on ensuring women have equal access to agricultural training, supplies, and seeds. We do this because despite women comprising roughly half of the world’s agricultural labor force, they continue to be under resourced compared their male counterparts. What’s more, according to the UN FAO, if women have the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%. 

Of equal importance for us, is what women contribute to their communities. It’s estimated that a woman invests 85% of her income back into her family and community, compared to 35% for a man. This means that when we invest in women, we also invest in education for their children, better health outcomes for their family, and overall community development. 

One of our flagship projects that highlights women in agriculture is with Taaru Askan Farm and Tostan International in Senegal. There, we are working on a multi-year project to train selected women from rural, Senegalese villages in a multi-day intensive training in organic and regenerative agricultural practices. This year, we are working with 3 villages in spreading organic, regenerative agricultural practices. Following the intensive training the selected women receive, they return to their villages and in turn train other women in their villages, creating a positive feedback loop on both spreading sustainable agricultural techniques while uplifting the status and empowerment of women in their respective villages. So far this year, over 120 women have been trained in regenerative agriculture. 

Through this project, we are changing the way in which rural Senegalese villages farm, while also providing important resources and to women to balance the scales in a traditionally gender-unequal society. 

Pleas enjoy some of these photos of the work these women have been up to. Through this project, they have diversified their crops, are earning more income than before, and have improved nutrition significantly throughout their villages.

When you donate to SPI, you donate to women around the world to change their circumstances for the better. Even more, you donate to creating food systems that do right by the planet. 

Natural fertilizers in a Senegalese garden
Natural fertilizers in a Senegalese garden
Women and daughters in the garden
Women and daughters in the garden
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Hi there folks,

We're excited to share some exciting project updates for 2022. Just as growing season is upon us here in North America, so too has the planting and growing season kicked off in many parts of the tropics over the last few months. And here in our world, that means lots of new projects, with partners new and old alike. It's one of our favorite times of the year. 

Today, we'd like to share with you in broad strokes a few exciting things going on in SPI's world. We want to share two of our projects that are underway–new seeds in the ground getting ready to sprout. 

Mughende Women's Association in Kasese, Uganda:

In Kasese, Uganda, a small area in Western Uganda, we are partnering with a women's farmer association to support their efforts in expanding agricultural activities via training, access to capital, and garden inputs. Together, we are supporting a 10-day farmer training that focuses on vegetable growing, rather than staple crop growing (think large planting of cereal crops, like maize, sorghum or beans). We call these vegetable gardens 'kitchen gardens,' as they are frequently smaller in size than ceral crop plots and are frequently nearby to the home to ensure proper maintenance and easy harvesting. In addition to the farming training, a business marketing training is included as well, to help the women learn how to market their new vegetables. Through this project, we will be supporting gardens for a 1,000 women-headed households. Stay tuned for more updates later in the season!

Mujeres Trabajando por Tecpán (Women working with Tecpán) in Guatemala:

Tecpán is a women's group in Guatemala that we have been supporting since 2018. Through their program, they support women-headed households in rural Guatemala in multiple areas of their lives; income, health, educaiton, and agriculture. Our work with them supports agricultural projects, and this year, we are gearing up to work with 125 women to provide them with agricultural training, seed inputs and garden tool inputs for them to increase their food production and increase opportunities for income to bettter support their families. We look forward to sharing with you more about the women supported through this project as time goes on!

These are just two of many women's groups that we are supporting this year. And thanks to supporters like you, we are able to increase capital, access to opportunities, and improved livelihood for women around the world, all whilst building food security and climate resilience in an ever changing world. Thank you for your continued to support. 

Want to expand your impact? Share our page with 3 friends and see if you can triple your giving! If you have any questions or want to learn more about us, please reach out. We'd love to hear from you. 

Happy gardening,

the SPI team

Women joining a meeting in Guatemala
Women joining a meeting in Guatemala
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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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Seed Programs International

Location: Asheville, NC - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @seedprograms
Project Leader:
Georgia Beasley
Asheville, NC United States
$122,639 raised of $175,000 goal
 
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