In remote rural areas in many parts of the world, smallholder farmers lack the choices or implementation capacity to consistently produce enough food to feed their families. They live in extreme poverty. Nuru’s Agriculture Program works with these farmers to confront the challenges of living in an episodic hunger community:
- Farmers who live in isolated areas often lack formal training. Many farmers use inferior agricultural practices, such as planting by broadcasting [scattering] seed instead of using spacing techniques to maximize yield per acre, lack of proper weeding and lack of fertilizer use.
- Rural farmers often use low-yielding saved seed instead of high-yielding hybrid seed and can seldom afford fertilizer for planting and top dressing.
- Antiquated agricultural practices yielding low grain output reduce efficacy, leaving little time for other income-generating activities.
- Rural farmers often lack proper training on crop disease management, for example how to prevent and treat a Witchweed infestation, which threatens a farmer’s output.
- Farmers in isolated areas often do not have reliable access to markets where they can sell their surplus crops at a fair value.
In support of Nuru International’s goal to achieve sustainable and scalable poverty alleviation, the Agriculture Program frees families of episodic hunger and provides an economic base that equips them to deal with shocks and continue lifting themselves out of extreme poverty. The Agriculture Program has two goals:
- Increase crop yields by providing a complete maize farming package – input loans, training, extension services, and organizational structure.
- Translate surplus yields into increased income by providing access to reliable, fair markets via a network of aggregation centers and buying stations.
Here is a breakdown of the activities we use to help farmers increase crop yield:
- Farm Input Loans equip farmers with quality hybrid maize seed and fertilizers to plant high-yielding varieties and amend their nutrient-poor soil.
- Technical Training on land preparation, planting, fertilization, weeding, harvesting, and crop conditioning helps farmers maximize yield and properly manage maize throughout the season; leadership training covers group work, how to model servant leadership and how to train local leaders.
- Extension Services by Agriculture Program staff enable close supervision and technical advice for farmers.
- Group Work with 8-10 farmers provides solidarity as they train together, work their farms together, bring in the harvest and guarantee each member’s agriculture loan; group members are an important source of assistance in case one member falls ill.
- Loan Repayment by farmer groups ensures financial sustainability.
Nuru International facilitates farmers to translate yield to income:
- Managing Aggregation Centers and Buying Stations: Since rural farmers lack reliable developed markets and transportation infrastructure, Nuru Agribusiness buys maize in villages throughout the district to purchase a farmer’s surplus crop at fair market value.
- Introducing farmers to Nuru’s Community Economic Development (CED) Program: Nuru members are able to kick-start their saving cycle by selling the surplus yield from their first harvest. Their income is captured when they join a basic savings group through Nuru’s CED Program. Through a series of trainings, Nuru members learn how to save and budget their money for household expenses. Savings club members then loan funds to one another, sometimes for home improvements or to buy farming assets, such as a plow or ox.
With all the programmatic content above, Nuru’s Agriculture Program applies quality solutions criteria to measure the progress toward the exit of international staff from the local project:
- Achieve financial and organizational sustainability through high loan repayment and by developing local leaders
- Identify and employ simple, scalable interventions so that each intervention can be easily replicated to enable implementation and impact by locally equipped leaders in remote, rural areas around the world
- Create long-term impact by using interventions to create a sustainable economic base for episodic hunger communities and to contribute to ending extreme poverty in remote, rural areas
The future development of the Nuru Agriculture Program could grow to consider many different topics including farmer organization in cooperative structures, vegetable gardens for household nutrition, high value cash crops, macro-economic policy reform, agroforestry applications, and organic farming.
Nuru Agriculture thanks The Green Revolution and One Acre Fund for their contribution to international development and influence on our approach, philosophy, and model.
The Agriculture Program frees families of episodic hunger and provides an economic base that equips them to deal with shocks