Improving Food Security in Last-mile Communities
“If anyone who was here years ago comes back now, they would easily spot the change in our lives,” says Salim, a father of seven, as he looks across the room at his wife, Aisha.
As a subsistence farmer, Salim and his family have long depended on their home garden for both meals and income. Yet without resources like improved seeds and fertilizers, securing enough nutritious food from his small piece of land was a daily struggle. “Our food supply was not at all secure before Raising The Village came to our community,” he shares.
Raising The Village (RTV)’s “Secure, Improve, Sustain” model responds to the interconnectivity of food security and long-term economic development by empowering households like Salim’s to address food challenges in both the immediate and long-term. Using readily available resources, quality inputs like “ready-to-eat” vegetable seedlings, improved maize, soybean, groundnut seeds, and organic fertilizers, subsistence farmers like Salim are empowered to maximize their existing land to reap larger, healthier yields. The impact on families is transformational.
“In the previous season, I received 3 kgs of maize seedlings from Raising The Village, and oh those seeds did really well. From the 3 kgs I planted I was able to harvest over 300 kgs. That is 100 kgs from each one!” Salim shares excitedly. “I sold off some of it and ensured that I kept some for home consumption.” Salim mentions.
To encourage sustainability and long-term food security, upon delivering the seeds, RTV trains farmers on modern agronomic practices to help them maximize their harvest. Those sessions highlight practices like spacing well, irrigation techniques, and composting, which all help boost the yield’s quality and quantity. This means both more nutritious food to eat, as well as higher earnings when those crops go to the market.
“I love green peppers and eggplants, but I had to buy them every week. Now, we can have them anytime we want from our garden! We’re able to spend less on food and afford other needs.” Salim explains. “Before, we could only afford small pieces of soap. Now I buy a whole bar and other items that my family needs.”
Having more money to save, Salim joined a Village Saving and Loans Association (VSLA) that helps him and other farmers invest their harvest sale revenues. By establishing these VSLAs in partner villages, RTV builds on the successes seen by community members like Salim as they improve their economic situation through accessing loans and investing their savings.
“We even formed a VSLA and started to save. It was little money but I was able to buy rabbits from my savings. I plan to start buying goats,” Salim concludes, now able to plan a better, more secure future, “step by step, we are doing better and better. I do not want my little ones to go another day without food.”