Garsilla, Sudan (October 15, 2013) — Farm Learning Groups and seed fairs are providing a foundation for more than 4,000 conflict-affected people in Darfur to rebuild food security.
“This season I was able to grow more than 25 sacks of peanuts for the first time in my whole life,” shared a proud Haram Ahmed.
A 55 year-old farmer from a village in Darfur’s Garsilla District, Haram is the mother of 12 children. It is a challenge for her to support her large family, and she has very little time to spare.
Through this USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance-funded initiative, the Near East Foundation (NEF) is helping Haram and other farmers to restore their agricultural production and earn more income.
A new plow is one of the ways NEF assistance has changed farming – and life – in her village. “Before we had the plow we farmed by hand manually, which is slow and tiring,” Haram said. Now she and her neighbors save time and money by sharing the plow, which is pulled by a donkey – an animal they also share communally.
Encouraging farmers to work together is another way NEF is helping communities recover from conflict and build resilient livelihoods to overcome challenges ranging from destruction of their crops and tools by fighting to pro- longed drought.
Haram and others started a “farm learning group” – one of 125 created with support from NEF and OFDA. Learning groups offer farmers opportunities to share both farm implements and best practices that result in increased crop yields.
Water harvesting is one of these practices. Participating farmers received training in how to collect rainwater and reduce evaporation.
Developing control over water resources has been a game-changer for farmers in an area where rainfall is totally unpredictable.
“The rainy season this year wasn’t good. It is astonishing that I still have moisture left in my fields. My plants are still blooming.”
Through the new learning groups and peer-to-peer extension, a growing network of farmers beyond the direct project participants is also improving livelihoods with these new techniques.
“I consider myself so lucky,” said Haram as she shared how thankful she is for the benefits of her new skills and resources.
With their new production and income, farmers like Haram are better able to support their families and build a more stable future.
The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for nearly 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF helps build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and to empower citizens through “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit http://www.neareast.org.