Families face three big problems: they often cannot afford meat, dairy, and eggs in their diet; they don’t have the proper irrigation to sustain crops during the dry season; and they don’t have suitable storage for their harvest. With all of these things combined, it makes it hard for a family not to go hungry.
Quality Protein Maize (QPM) was developed by World Food Prize Laureates Drs. Surinder Vasal and Evangelina Villegas in the late 1990s. It contains about 90% of the digestible protein found in a glass of skim milk, making it a locally-appropriate source of protein for subsistence for farmers who cannot afford to feed meat, dairy, or eggs to their families.This simple seed switch can provide a significant amount of nutrition to families in need, and it also supports our school feeding program.
Self Help also brings technology, like drip irrigation, to farmers. This allows them to use water more efficiently, grow food during the dry season (when families tend to go hungry), and maximize yields.
As yields increase, post-harvest storage becomes critical—no one wants to sell when prices are low. Simple, locally-made silos enable farmers to wait for the market to rebound and reduce post-harvest loss by 37%.
A better product only helps if a farmer can produce it. In 2015, 300 youth and farmers attended training sessions on practical agricultural enterprises at our training sites in Nicaragua and Ghana. We want to ensure their knowledge can be put into action to create long-term sustainability.
Isidro is a farmer in Los Chiles, Nicaragua, who received improved training in agricultural practices from Self-Help’s Country Program Director. Thanks to also being able to afford certified seed from his loan in addition to training sessions, he is now able to employ 2-3 other community members for half of the year when he needs the extra help on his land. With better seed, he has enough profit to pay for the help to grow his business. With this recent success, he can invest more in his children’s education. His oldest son is finishing nursing school in December. If not for the training and seed provided by Self-Help, he would have had to sell valuable land to afford his son’s schooling. Isidro says, “because Self-Help’s interest rates are affordable and are scheduled to be repaid after harvest, I can afford to pay them.”
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“I am so grateful to Self-Help for all I’ve gained. I used to scatter seeds at random. I used creole seed instead of QPM, and didn’t use fertilizers. Now I know more and my yields have doubled compared to when I grew creole seed.”
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