Agriculture and Food Security
One of the most pressing issues directly impacting poverty alleviation today is the growing challenge of food security. Food security is the availability of and access to an adequate amount of healthy, nutritious food that meets populations’ dietary needs and food preferences. Food security in turn has an impact on populations’ access to education, their health, their livelihoods and their life outcomes.
Free The Children’s Adopt a Village model continues to evolve and expand to meet the changing needs of our community partners. In light of these needs, we are proud to announce we are adding Agriculture and Food Security as the fifth pillar of Adopt a Village.
The Agriculture and Food Security pillar, made possible by founding partner PotashCorp, focuses on innovative farming techniques and water management projects to help ensure developing communities have access to self-sustaining food sources, directly impacting their health, access to education and life outcomes.
In April 2012, the World Bank reported an eight percent increase in global food prices in the first quarter of 2012. In Free The Children’s countries of operations, the majority of community members are subsistence farmers. As a result, when their crops fail these farmers are unable to feed their families. This coupled with rising global food prices, which makes purchasing food out of reach, led to widespread malnutrition during periods of crisis.
In the past 8 years, Free The Children has witnessed the effect of changing weather patterns and desertification in our countries of operation. The 2011-2012 East African Drought brought even more attention to the importance of long-term food security. Existing agricultural practices in rural communities in the countries where we work are based on systems that are hundreds of years old. These agricultural practices are no longer able to ensure self-sufficiency and adequate livelihoods amongst subsistence farmers in these communities. Increased capacity is needed in order to address the challenges of increasing desertification and shifting weather patterns.
Through implementation of all five Adopt a Village pillars over three to five years, Free The Children aims to improve access and change not only circumstance and opportunity, but behaviour. Ultimately this leads to a change in community status, resulting in long-term, effective and meaningful development.
Our Agriculture and Food Security Projects Include:
In response to these changing needs, Free The Children’s Adopt a Village countries have already begun implementing agriculture and food security projects. The following is a list of projects and activities that exist and will be included under this pillar:
- Emergency food aid during times of drought and crisis
- School Nutrition Programs, which provide nutritious meals as well as education on proper nutrition
- Crop diversification, introduction of high-quality seeds
- Agriculture training
- Planting school gardens
- Planting school farms
- Planting medicinal gardens
- Tree planting to address desertification
- Irrigation and watershed development
With the support of PotashCorp, throughout a number of communities in several Adopt a Village countries, Free The Children’s strategy moving forward will be based on increasing water access, improving seed quality for farmers, improving soil fertility, improving farmers’ tool kits, and capacity building for farmers to ensure long-term sustainability.
Daniel Kirui was hoping for a miracle. When disease wiped out the crops in his small community of Emorijoi in Kenya, the father of two wondered how he would feed his daughters. He couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of the situation and what it would mean for his family. Daniel starts every morning waking up and heading straight to his farm. When he woke up one more to find his crops destroyed, he felt helpless. He needs the maize he harvests to sell in the market to earn money to pay for the land he leases and to buy seeds for the next season.
One of the most pressing issues facing developing communities is food security; availability of and access to healthy foods. During this time of emergency, Free The Children distributed seeds to Daniel and other small-scale famers, giving them the tools to plant millet and cassava crops. Daniel cleared and ploughed his land for these new crops so that he could restore his lost income and be able to provide for his family.
“Now we have something to put in the ground,” says Daniel, “something to look forward to.” Through this agriculture project and continued agricultural interventions in Daniel’s community, Daniel and his family are going to be able to secure accessible, adequate and nutritious food for years to come.