Responding to long-term hunger

Wednesday, September 08, 2021
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Jedidah Njeri participated in agricultural trainings offered through our member World Renew and their local partner Anglican Development Services in Kenya. (Photo: Phil Maher/World Renew)

I struggled a lot before conservation agriculture. I would have to buy food and never had any surplus.

Jedidah Njeri, Kenya

Last year, we approved funding to support 568,324 people facing long-term hunger and malnutrition in 21 countries.

Our development work focuses on supporting families’ efforts to lift themselves out of poverty. This work often includes offering sustainable agriculture trainings to families, many of whom rely on small plots of land for their income, to improve their crop yields.

We also help people rebuild their livelihoods after disasters, and work with communities to strengthen their ability to live through natural disasters and adapt to a changing climate.

Ending hunger is about more than the quantity of food someone eats. It’s also about the nutritional value of food. Through our members and partners, we promote good nutritional practices, especially for pregnant and nursing mothers and young children. We do this by supporting nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, and maternal health education programs. Our programs encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life.

Scaling-Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa

2020-21 saw the conclusion of our five-year Scaling-Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa program. The program was undertaken by our members Mennonite Central Committee Canada, World Renew and Tearfund Canada, and implemented locally by a network of partner agencies.

Through the program:

  • 61,669 farmers were trained in sustainable conservation agriculture methods.
  • 51,000 households improved their access to food, including quantity and quality of food.
  • The Government of Canada supported this program with $14 million in funding, while Foodgrains Bank supporters donated an additional $4.67 million.

For Jedidah Njeri in Kenya, receiving conservation agriculture training has had positive spin-off effects in ways she hadn’t anticipated.

“I struggled a lot before conservation agriculture. I would have to buy food and never had any surplus. Now I sell food to my neighbours. I’m using the land more productively,” says Jedidah, who is 52 years old and participated in the trainings, provided by our member World Renew through their local partner Anglican Development Services.

Jedidah Njeri participated in trainings offered through our member World Renew and their local partner Anglican Development Services in Kenya. She’s been so successful that she’s been able to hire others to help with her farming, including this man, who delivers food for her cows. (Photo: Phil Maher/World Renew)

Conservation agriculture is a set of farming techniques that emphasizes minimal soil disturbance, soil cover, and crop rotations and variety. It helps keep moisture locked into the soil, and over time, restores its health and fertility.

Jedidah and her husband farm on five acres. Using conventional farming methods, they used to harvest five bags of maize, and two bags of beans. Now, with conservation agriculture methods, Jedidah has increased that to six bags of maize and three bags of beans, and hasn’t needed to farm all her land to meet her needs.

“I’m now getting more food with less work and on less land. It has given me the freedom to tend to other parts of my farm and be more productive,” she says.

“Before conservation agriculture, I could not keep more than three cows,” she explains. “I was balancing the farm with the cattle. I needed more time and could not afford to hire more people. Now that I spend less time in the field, I can tend to another cow. And since I’m making more money, I can hire somebody to take care of the cattle. In addition, my cows have given birth to two calves that I can now keep or decide to sell.”

Today, there are 54,376 people who are continuing to practice conservation agriculture on their farms despite the program ending.

As for Jedidah? “I hope others can learn this method. My neighbours notice my field and I tell them what I do,” she says.

This story was featured in the 2021 Annual Report. Download or order your copy here.

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