From Subsistence to Surplus
Quote: “After my completion of training in FFS (Food for Security) methodologies, I feel now equipped and ready to mobilize and serve other farmers so that we all join hands to improve the food security situation in our community.”
Issue: Food and Agriculture
Country: Sierra Leone
Musa Amos Conteh stopped his formal education because of civil wars that beset Sierra Leone over the last decades. His ambition of becoming a teacher vanished when his parents died in the wars and there was no other source of money for his school fees. He worked as a manual laborer on the farms of rich people or at construction sites to earn money just to survive and to support his extended family. His own children were denied the opportunity to go to school because he, too, couldn’t afford the school fees, even though he and his family lived on two hectares of arable but uncultivated land that he had inherited from his father.
In 2007, Musa joined as a trainee in the TOT “Training of the Trainer” Course, as part of Africare’s Food for Security activities in Ndamba community, Njaluahun Chiefdom, Kailahun District. Initially reluctant to join, Musa was encouraged by a neighboring farmer who had participated in the first two days of the session. The program taught them technologies to increase crop production, teaching skills for other farmers, and an orientation into farming as business. Musa emerged as one of the best students among the other 21 trainee farmers.
After completing the program, Musa established his one-hectare demonstration plot, experimenting with cassava, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, and vegetables. Combining several of the farming practices he had learned in the Africare program such as proper tilling and ridging, good varieties, early weeding and proper spacing, plus the use of organic manure, his crop harvests increased four- to six-fold. He not only raised enough food to easily feed his family, but he was able to sell a full half of the crop harvest, making enough money to send his children to school. “I am very grateful for the knowledge and skills offered by Africare. My family and I had never generated such an amount of money from crop sales before I joined this program.”
Musa has now become a model prosperous farmer in the community and has contracted with a local NGO to facilitate two Food for Security programs in nearby districts. “After my completion of training in FFS (Food for Security) methodologies, I feel now equipped and ready to mobilize and serve other farmers so that we all join hands to improve the food security situation in our community.” And even better, he says “Africare’s introduction of FFS in our community has improved the welfare of my family and made me regain my dream of becoming a teacher once again. And I am thinking about an even bigger project on my farm. Next time you come, you will be able to see it.”