Niger is a landlocked country in West Africa with a population of 20 million. Over two-thirds of the country falls within the Sahara Desert. Eighty percent of the population is primarily subsistence farmers, growing barely enough rain-fed crops to feed themselves.
With drought conditions in 2 years out of every 5, the food supply is at constant risk, and farming families are trapped in a cycle of endless poverty.
An Innovative Solution
Farmers of the Future (FOF) is an innovative program that addresses all these challenges. FOF produces high value crops year-round using irrigation. It utilizes “Smart Agriculture” techniques to maximize profits. With access to water, training of women and high quality fruits and vegetables, yields can greatly increase.
The goal is “Economic Security,” not just “Food Security. “ We want farmers to enjoy a better life, not just survive. Farm profits can then be used to purchase food, clothing, education, medicine and other essentials.
In the FOF Program, the primary school becomes the “agent for change” within the village. It simultaneously introduces a new farming approach to two generations:
- primary school children who are open to new ideas
- parents, particularly mothers who put these new ideas into practice
We empower mothers to form Associations, earn income and improve their standing within the family and community.
They receive 3 years of training and technical support to ensure their competence with new farming methods. Children in school learn that farming can be a good business and not just a poverty trap.
A Brighter Future
Hamsa Kindo is 50 years old, lives in Gonzare, and has a husband, two sons, four daughters and six grandchildren. Just a few years ago, Hamsa felt like a burden, having many expenses and no way to contribute. Then she became a part of P4K’s Farmers of the Future, an innovative program to lift subsistence farmers out of poverty, and her life changed forever. Here’s how she described it:
“Before the project I had to ask my husband for everything. I was often at home. I had no occupation and no money of my own. When I heard about Farmers of the Future it was like a dream. They taught me how to grow vegetables and graft fruit trees. Now with the money I make, my dreams of independence became reality. My relationship with my husband is very good since I am not any more a burden on his shoulders. I am his partner for our household expenses. I paid for the wedding of my daughters. I buy clothes for my children and pay their school fees. I help my sons buy food and clothes for their wives. Today I’ve become a person and play a positive role in my family and my community.”
A Reason to Smile
Gambi Garba is 55 years old and has been a widow since she was 38 years old. She has five married children, four boys and one girl. Before the Farmers of the Future Program came into her life she was growing Moringa on a very small plot to improve the nutritional value of her family’s food. It was not for income generation but for subsistence. When she was finally accepted into the FOF program and asked to join the Women’s Association, she received a 100m2 plot and was so excited. She worked hard and was even nominated in April 2015 as one of the three best workers in the Galbal women’s group! That recognition gave her rewards of soap and clothes and more importantly gave her incentive to do even better. Now, because of the resources she is generating from her gardening activities she has paid for the wedding of one of her sons, bought a goat for breeding and is paying the school fees of her grandchildren among many other things.
It’s Never Too Late
Biba Garba is 60 years old, married with seven children: four girls and three boys. Her expectation when she joined the Farmers of the Future initiative in Gonzare was to generate enough resources to buy land to build a house for her family. Her dreams of independence and improving the quality of life for her family became reality the day, in her words, “that I started to produce wealth using my hands and my head”. As a result of her income-generating garden, she was able to pay for the treatment of her sick daughter who had been unable to see any doctors or afford any medicines because of the cost. She is now helping relatives solve small financial problems and is giving her grandchildren money for food during their breaks at school. Her life has changed course and she is now optimistic about her family’s future.