Niger is a landlocked country in West Africa with a population of 26 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.
We empower women 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.
The Power of Training Trainers:
The Dov Center
Since there are not enough horticultural field technicians in the country to train farmers, we have built the Dov Centre, named in memory of Professor Dov Pasternak which will offer a comprehensive 2-year training program in horticulture for field technicians, a 3-year License degree for those pursuing a more rigorous L/M/D education track, and seminars for funders and practitioners of agricultural development.
For more information on the Dov Centre, which is a joint project of Pencils for Kids and Eliminate Poverty Now please visit:
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.
Amina Hamani is one of the women from our Leadership Garden. She does not have children. Her husband has been sick for many years. Before joining the Farmers of the Future program, she had no resources of her own to pay for anything she needed.
But since she started working in the Leadership Academy Garden she has been able to pay for food for her family and other personal expenses.
This year she was able to pay for her own surgery and also pay for any medication she needed. She also paid for medication for her husband to improve his health. And this year her husband was finally well enough to secure a position as a guard in a private company.
Hot Pepper Harvest
Mariama Moussa is the Lead Farmer in the IZAWITAN Farmers of the Future garden. It is located in Balleyara, a community where five Farmers of the Future gardens are situated.
After only one harvest of hot pepper, she was able to purchase a cow. After that she gave money to her husband to pay for a moto pump for gardening in his own garden.
Aissa Alamana is from TIGRI I, another Farmers of the Future garden located in Balleyara.
Her husband passed away many years ago, and she said that, “Before this activity, my kids and I have lots of difficulties getting food. I never cared about clothes for myself. But since I started this activity, I am able to feed my kids and able to buy clothes for myself.”
Aissa is one of the leaders in her women’s group, always paying taxes and fees in full and on time, setting a great example for others.
The Garden that Built a House
Agaicha Anza is the President of the Farmers of the Future Women’s group in Timboram, situated in Balleyara.
With the proceeds from her garden activities she was able to change her house from a straw hut to one made of banco mixed with cement.
A Strong Foundation
Hadiza Souley is the President of IZAWITTAN’s Farmers of the Future women’s group. With the proceeds from her garden, she was able to replace her straw hut with one made from Banco, a cement mixture..
Any time that visitors from large NGOS like USAID or other countries want to visit a successful garden, they always go to the IZAWITAN garden and Hadiza is well-known by many people in Niger and beyond for her amazing work.
The Comfort of Success
Hadiza Alhassane is from IZAWITTAN and part of the Farmers of the Future women’s group there. With profit from her garden activities she was able to purchase a new sofa and new bed, which is a rare achievement, as most women in Niger never have this opportunity. It is a sign that she has done exceedingly well.
The women’s group in Gueriguinde this year were able to pay for the construction of four hangars for their childrens’ school.
They also paid for the repair and renewal of their tree-nursery hangars.