Nuru’s agriculture program mobilizes and trains thousands of farmers every year in October and November in anticipation of the long rains maize harvest season (January to July). The agriculture program issues loans of agricultural inputs (maize seeds and fertilizers) and trains farmers to use them. Nuru equips extremely poor smallholder agriculturalists with the knowledge and tools to sustainably and permanently increase crop yields for subsistence and sale.
Each of Nuru’s program models – agriculture, community economic development (CED), water and sanitation, healthcare, and education – are built on the foundations of sustainability and scalability. Agriculture leads and drives the other Nuru programs. Farmers become Nuru members through a series of trainings and participation in agriculture loans, thereby increasing their crop yields. At the harvest date, farmers have enough food for subsistence and sale, improving their basic living standards and generating income.
The other Nuru programs follow up on and integrate with the agriculture program to bring a holistic community and household development. For example, the CED Program facilitates farmers to form savings groups so that their extra income is stored safely as cash to be used in case of an emergency or, better yet, for investment in other income generating activities. The healthcare, water and sanitation, and education programs similarly integrate with the agriculture program. The involvement of farmers in other Nuru programs starts with mobilization and agriculture training.
Farmer mobilization and training commences with a general farmer meeting – the first introduction to Nuru – followed by base education and a series of specific technical trainings.
While it would seem that farmer trainings should immediately start in on technical topic areas in agriculture, Nuru has found that farmers should first be trained on a set of principles encapsulated in what is termed “base education” training. The two-day course covers life skills and broader concepts for farmer participation in Nuru programs. Nuru Agriculture equips and trains farmers to increase maize yields; Nuru as a whole aims to empower individuals to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.
Base education is far from a simple list of procedural rules, but rather through base education farmers come to understand how and why the actions that Nuru promotes will lead them out of extreme poverty. Nuru facilitates farmer empowerment, so that farmers use knowledge and tools to assume an active and responsible role in changing their lives, instead of taking a back seat to poverty alleviation.
Base education achieves its impact of mobilizing and empowering extremely poor farmers through an agenda of five topic areas.
Upon successful graduation from base education training, the participants are inscribed as Nuru members and provided access to small agriculture loans and trainings for maize production on one acre. The loan product offers improved maize seed and quality fertilizers in a timely fashion and at an accessible price. The agriculture technical trainings include everything from land preparation and planting, to weeding and fertilizing, to harvesting and grains processing – all of which are central to achieving increased crop yield.
Nuru issues small loans and imparts technical agriculture skills to thousands of farmers yearly, enabling them to excel at maize farming. Base education, and the life skills and programmatic components it teaches, empowers farmers with the knowledge and tools to sustainably lift themselves out of poverty. Together, technical agriculture skills, high quality agriculture inputs, and base education are the first steps towards the Nuru vision of holistic community development. Tuko pamoja! (We are together!)