The All-Woman Groundnut Plot Results Are In!
February 22, 2017
In international development work, it’s widely accepted that empowering women should be a deliberate strategy with any approach. Regardless of the lack of official power that women hold in various countries around the world, the practical power they have in their households and communities is undeniable.
Several women in the countries we serve are emerging as true leaders, none more so than Jenneh Lassayo in Bauya, Sierra Leone. We have known and relied on her husband Joe for many years, and her formal entry into our organization as a Field Officer in 2016 has been a true blessing to the people served by Just Hope International.
Last September, Jenneh led a groundnut training for women from the Bauya community. Jenneh fully understands women empowerment, and had envisioned this training for some time. Motivated by the idea of farming techniques that might increase their harvest, and encouraged by talk in their communities about Jenneh and her abilities, 25 women gathered in an empty field with open minds. That day they planted about two acres of groundnuts supplied by Just Hope. In the middle of the field, they planted a 6×6 meter plot using only conservation agriculture techniques that Jenneh taught them. The rest of the field was planted in groundnuts using the women’s own traditional techniques.
Fast forward to late January, through four months of maintenance, when the women gathered again to harvest both crops. In the presence of Jenneh and Joe, the women were visibly astounded by the difference between the two crops. The groundnuts on the roots from the demo plot crop were more plentiful, larger and heavier than those from the traditionally planted crop. When compared to a 6×6 meter traditional plot adjacent to the demo plot, the harvest from the demo plot was about four times larger!
The 5½ bags of groundnuts harvested from this planting will dry until May, at which time the women will plant all of them for the next growing season. The women have decided to plant four times as much land using conservation agriculture techniques and plant the remainder of the groundnuts using traditional techniques. Although they were impressed with the output from the first demo plot, they are cautious in their approach to fully adopting the new practices.
Engaged and eager to learn more, the women have formed a farming group together, calling themselves Gbotima, which means “help me.” Their success has attracted more women, so Jenneh is working with them to break into two groups to continue learning and farming together. During the next few months of the dry season, they are perfecting their composting skills and preparing their fields for the next planting, so that when the first rain comes in May, the women will be ready to plant.
A number of women – among them Margaret Kowah, Agnes Lamboi and Anita Amara – have been inspired to plant crops on their own land using their newfound knowledge. We are excited by the potential outcomes of women working together and anticipate widespread impact from this group in particular. And although their group name means “help me,” it’s obvious to us that the biggest source of help is coming from within their own spirits. With a hand up from Just Hope, these women are doing more to help themselves than anyone could ever do for them.