Four ways to fight famine
Across much of Africa, food runs out with such regularity every year that villagers call this time of starvation “the hunger season.” The new grants under The Rotary Foundation’s Future Vision Plan are helping subsistence farmers there and elsewhere produce enough food to feed their families and sell in the market. With the extra income, parents can pay for medical care and send their children to school – critical steps in the long-term effort to eliminate hunger. Community members provide input for the grant projects, which are designed to continue well into the future. Here are four strategies, developed by Rotarians and funded by global grants, to end the cycle of hunger.
Introduce new cash crops. The village of Mpambire, Uganda, where the average family lives on US$300 a year, has endured two crises: the AIDS epidemic, which left many widows and orphans, followed by a blight on coffee plants, the community’s primary source of income. A project is teaching about 200 women and unemployed youth how to grow passion fruit, pineapples, tomatoes, and peppers for sale in the markets. They’re also learning the basics of running a small business through instruction in saving, borrowing, and bookkeeping. And about 350 small farmers are receiving fertilizer and higher-yield maize seeds.
- Sponsor Rotary clubs: Whistler, B.C., Canada; Muyenga, Uganda
- Project budget: US$45,750
Teach organic farming. About 300 farmers in Uluthe Mungao, Kenya, are learning about chemical-free soil enrichment, composting, pest and weed control, seed curing and selection, and postharvest storage. The training program has helped boost half-acre yields to about eight times what they were before; future harvests are expected to generate 20 times as much produce. The project also has funded two greenhouses, a footbridge, toilets, and protection for 10 natural springs.
- Sponsor Rotary clubs: Woodbury, Minn., USA; Kisumu Winam, Kenya
- Project budget: US$42,550
Provide better cows for dairy farming. In India, the world’s leading milk producer, most families own a cow but don’t have any surplus milk to sell. A project in Pune is providing households with cows that are cross-bred to yield more milk so families can earn extra income in the market. They also receive training in cattle raising and dairy practices.
- Sponsor Rotary clubs: Longtan, Taiwan; Poona North, India
- Project budget: US$65,041
Open an agricultural training school. When food runs out between harvests in Kisoga, Uganda, villagers must forage in the wild. A new school, part of Makerere University, intends to create a pool of agricultural professionals to boost household incomes and local harvests. The program will train about 60 students a year to work in nurseries, large-scale and family-run farms, fertilizer businesses, and seed companies. The community and the local Catholic diocese contributed 6 acres of land and the building for the school, which will operate a farm to raise additional money.
- Sponsor Rotary clubs: Firenze Brunelleschi, Italy; Mukono, Uganda
- Project budget: US$35,216