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The rains didn’t come in November, as they used to. When they did begin in December, here in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province, they didn’t last long.
“The drought has really impacted the farmers,” said Inutu Musialela, 53. “In February, it didn’t rain at all. In March, it did rain, but not until the last week.”
“Most of the crops were planted, like maize and sunflower. The rains started but then they went off. The farmers were hit with that. Their crops didn’t grow.”
Since Inutu began working with iDE in 2012, she says the local climate has changed significantly. As a Farm Business Advisor (FBA), Inutu has taught small scale farmers how to fertilize and protect their crops from pests.
Nowadays she spends just as much time teaching farmers how to become resilient to climate change, telling them to plant early maturing crops that require less water, or that they should plant a greater diversity of crops should some varieties fail.
“Because climate change has hit us now, I encourage them to prepare the land before the rains come.”
“They dig holes, like a basin, to plant their crops inside. These potholes hold water around the roots. There they can grow soybeans, maize, anything.”
Tryness Nsofwa, 57, proudly inspects her field of groundnuts. She uproots a clump of pods from the damp, red earth and is pleased with what she sees. Cracking open a husk to reveal edible fruit inside, Tryness notes the nuts are well formed and plentiful. “It’s looking very nice,” she says of her crop. “I will keep some for my family and I will sell some.”
Farm Business Advisor (FBA) Flora Mostiço is a change agent in her Mozambican community. At her market store in Nhamatanda, in the Beira Corridor, the mother of six sells affordable agricultural inputs including high quality seeds, fertilizer, and water pumps. Despite repeated cyclones in the region, she runs a successful small scale farm and provides business support to other farmers. “I started with something small and now I am growing,” Flora says of her business. iDE has trained some 332 (117 women) FBAs like Flora across Mozambique’s Maputo, Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia provinces.
While both men and women in the lowlands of Ethiopia have increased their engagement in local markets, they often lack access, agency, and commercial scale.
Pastoralist communities can no longer rely on traditional livestock and agriculture for high-quality, nutritious food production and consistent income generation.
How iDE is helping smallholder farmers increase their resilience following both Cyclone Idai and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopian farmers are adopting new practices to enhance a way of life that’s been passed down for generations. With the support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, iDE is working with farmers in Jimma, Ethiopia to practice sustainable coffee production.
iDE works with university partners to explore technologies that promise to increase market options for fruit and vegetable farmers.
Involve the entire family in order to achieve gender equality
Mariana now has a business connecting farms directly to restaurants, ensuring that everyone benefits from increased service that ensures profit and better food.
This model economically empowers women as they invest and save money for the future, but also addresses aspects of social empowerment through new relationships and increased agency.
Tropical greenhouse technology incorporates drip irrigation and ultraviolet plastic filtration cover that both protects the plants from heavy rainfall but also accelerates photosynthesis, resulting in healthier, larger produce.
iDE’s Sama Sama social enterprise is implementing a Ghana-specific psychometric survey to increase the pool of eligible applicants for sanitation finance.
Tailoring existing HCD curriculum to current in-country, contextual challenges the immersion course will provide participants with real-life applications to the Human-Centered Design methodology.
iDE is using state-of-the-art business analytics tools to flexibly adapt to the market to drive increasing sanitation coverage.
There wasn't a disaster in Ethiopia in 2016, although they had one of their worst famine years ever. What changed from the 1980s and what can we learn from that for the future?
Understanding that small-scale farming families have severe resource limitations, iDE works to help minimize the pressure on labor, income, water, and energy by identifying and re-designing technologies existing at the intersection of these four resources, which can have a life-changing impact on struggling farmers.
Llionel Simbarashe Zisengwe is in pursuit of the entrepreneurial spirit. He’s the project manager for a Farm Business Advisor program in Mozambique. He recruits Farm Business Advisors that are motivated, knowledgeable, personable, mobile, and successful farmers themselves.
The migration of young people from small villages and farms to the city opens up additional options for improving the lives of those who remain behind. Making improved toilets affordable can spur increasing sanitation coverage by marketing to this newly affluent group.
Farm Business Advisors are called on to perform many tasks. One of David Mbwita’s is to recommend his clients for small loans based on his understanding of their ability to repay.
Juddy has been working with John Muta, a Farm Business Advisor (FBA), for the past few years, and through talking with her we came to understand how the FBA program is affecting women’s empowerment in the household. Using the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), which measures empowerment across domains ranging from decision-making power to control over income, we asked Juddy about her roles.
Two farmers participate in a quantitative assessment by our iQ team, which will be paired with results from a qualitative deep dive administered by our Human-Centered Design team. We interviewed them to understand the successes and barriers to growing and selling a very specific kind of sweet potato: an orange-fleshed sweet potato, high in Vitamin A.
iDE provides farmers access to improved seeds and training in proven agricultural practices to increase crop yields that enable small-scale households to have food year-round.
In 2009, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded a collaboration that combined experience and wisdom of designers and field staff that eventually coalesced into the HCD Toolkit, a methodology specifically for organizations working with poor communities to create products that are feasible, desirable, and viable.
The use of demonstration plots helps convince skeptical farmers that agricultural technology, like drip irrigation, can make a difference in crop yields and boost their incomes.
Part of iDE's Human-Centered Design process is called a Deep Dive, wherein team members gather insights from stakeholders on their current behaviors, needs, and opportunities.
Farm business advisors are change agents who dispense information about best practices in technology, fertilizers, pest management, and post-harvest storage through training sessions and demonstrations, as well as sell direct services, such as crop spraying.
Market-based approaches are new to the sanitation and hygiene sector in Ethiopia. Through pilot and scale-up projects, iDE brings applicable and relevant strategies to build sustainable delivery of these services to Ethiopian households.
Refugees are making new lives with the assistance of agricultural extension agents who provide training, advice, products, and services so that they can build businesses around vegetable production.
What if one million farmers could grow more food with less water?
In Zambia, the major food crop and staple grown by small-scale farmers is maize. But maize doesn’t return enough profit for farmers to earn an adequate income. Zambia was a market in need of intervention.
The biggest barrier to handwashing is not always the availability of water or soap, but rather knowledge. Making the connection between dirty hands and disease is the first step.
If you want to solve the world’s problems, you have to be where the action is—and every location is different.
Getting to most of the world’s population isn’t easy. The road that takes you there isn’t paved, but a dirt path, overgrown with vegetation, barely big enough to get your bicycle or motor bike down. In some seasons, the path becomes mud, sucking at your tires and shoes, making each yard a chore. But if we are going to solve poverty, this is the most important distance to travel: the Last Mile.
Join the Activators Circle, iDE’s monthly sustaining donor program, to activate entrepreneurs around the world to increase their incomes and improve the lives of their families.
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