Sierra Leone Farmers Turn a Hand Up from Just Hope into Big Plans for Their Future
March 1, 2018
After successful harvests using the sustainable conservation agriculture techniques taught by Just Hope, the Balema and Madihoi Savings Groups in Bauya, Sierra Leone started making exciting plans for the future, strategizing for how they would capitalize on their initial success.
Both of these groups participated successfully in our seed loan program last year. Each group took the two bags of groundnuts they were given as a loan and successfully increased their yields in both growing seasons. Each group had four seasons of experience experimenting with sustainable conservation agriculture techniques and had seen the results surpass those of previous years. Their increases were significant enough to spark a desire to build storage facilities in which they could process and store excess yields for selling at a time in the year when grain and legume prices will be at their highest, thus earning a larger profit. (Just Hope is no longer loaning seeds for the seed loan program because they are now able to loan to one another!)
The Balema and Madihoi Savings Groups proposed their plans for the grain storage building project to Just Hope, which gifted the groups with a grant of $2,000 for each of the first four buildings to be built. This building model is meant to be one that can be replicated by other groups as their capacity allows them to grow.
The storage facility will also support their plans to implement one-acre sustainable farming systems that can deliver higher yields and higher profits for farmers.
The one-acre sustainable farming system will incorporate and support diverse crops–from grains and legumes to vegetables and fruit trees. It will also include goats and chickens to produce manure for composting and additional income. The idea is to create a fully self-sustained farming environment that is highly productive and diversified. This will create a healthy system that will produce higher yields with lower risk and higher profit for the farmer. With increased profits, farmers will have more household income to provide improved nutrition, healthcare and education for their families.
Storage buildings open a door to opportunity.
As these groups approach the harvesting season, they are well on their way to completing the first grain storage building. The members’ mindsets have shifted from day-to-day surviving to thriving and planning for the future. The initiative these groups have taken to implement this project reveals just how impactful a hand up can be.