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Farmer Field School Becomes A ray of sunshine

Letwin Viriri

58-year-old Letwin Viriri form ward 17 in Buhera had lost all hope in terms of providing food for her family. Buhera is a dry low-lying area with low rainfall and exhausted infertile sandy soils contributing to poor harvests and food shortages. The fact that she had no cattle to use for ploughing did nothing but to add fuel to her already burning fire of food scarcity.

However in September 2023, her story changed for the better. Southern Alliance for Indigenous Resources (SAFIRE) with funding from Irish Aid through Oxfam managed to link women, youth, and men smallholder farmers with Farmer Field Schools. Farmer field schools focus on production practices of adapted crop varieties and livestock species. Their main objective is to empower smallholders with knowledge and skills making the farmers experts in crop and livestock management. This will improve the adoption of climate-smart agriculture production practices and technologies.

 

“When we started the farmer field schools were about five. The program was very educative. We were taught sustainable methods of farming that ensure a bumper harvest like the use of hydrogel,” said Letwin.

The application of hydrogel as a soil conditioner increase the soil water retention and release capacity; improve irrigation, water, and nutrient use efficiencies; enhance the yield and quality of agricultural produce; and sustain the environmental quality.

“I am very grateful to SAFIRE and its funding partners because they did not just equip us with knowledge, but they also provided us with start-up kits that had all the materials we needed. They drilled a borehole for us and gave us the seeds, fertilisers and even insecticides,” she narrated.

Their farmer field school has since grown to 25 members. Despite the current dry spell in the region, their group is currently expecting a bumper harvest of not just maize corn but also groundnuts, sorghum and millet.

“Right now our field is ever-green. Although the rains have not yet come, I am happy to tell you that we are still going to have a big harvest. I no longer have to worry about food scarcity in my family. This has truly empowered me as I now have the means to provide for my family,” she said.

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