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A change in the way we live

T-story-1.jpgJackline, her husband Massawa, and their four children have a small, three acre farm in Bunda District. Jackline recently participated in CPAR’s Fields to Families project voluntarily joining a Farmer Field School (FFS) group in the hopes of improving her livelihood. Her experience in the FFS group has led to big changes in the way the couple manages their farm, market their products, and work with each other.

After learning about Conservation Agriculture, which teaches minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover, and crop rotation as a way to achieve sustainable and profitable agriculture, the couple decided to apply these principles to half of their 3-acre plot. They brought good-quality manure from a neighboring village, began a system of crop rotation, and made use of the improved seeds provided through the FFS program. Jackline and Massawa were amazed to find that the harvest increased by over 150%. The improved half of their plot produced 38 bags of maize while the other half produced only 13.

In Jackline’s FFS group, she also learned about the importance of keeping careful records of her income and expenditures. For the first time the couple counted every penny that they spent on farming activities, and were able to properly analyze their profits. Jackline took part in training on market principles, and when the price of maize was low at harvest time, the couple decided to hold back their stock to sell when demand was higher. Jackline and Massawa researched maize prices in the surrounding areas, and were able to sell their crop at a much greater profit. What’s more, they felt confident in their decision-making, and knew what fair market value was for their product.

Jackline and Massawa have used their increased agricultural profits to build a modern house after their old house was damaged during the rainy season. Being an FFS member has had another benefit - Jackline now plays a more active role in managing the farm, sharing her new-found knowledge with her husband and her community. According to Massawa:

“I have every reason to say that my wife’s involvement in the group has been of much help. The knowledge we gained is permanent and already we have started seeing the fruits of our labor. The support of the group’s ox cart was important as formerly we had to hire tractors to take manure to our fields, but now our group just shares the cost of maintaining the ox cart. If I could give advice to young farmers I would tell them to use Conservation Agriculture. It is a lot of work and commitment at the start, but it is worth it!”

Made possible with the help of Feed The Future