In 2015 after Ebola clobbered the economy and people were hungry, Sherbro Foundation wanted to help the most vulnerable. We could help stop hunger by helping women farmers quickly regain lost income.
For GIVING TUESDAY, you can, too. We’ll even match your gift and double your impact.
We learned that just $75 can put a family on the path to self-sufficiency by planting fast-growing vegetables as cash crops.
We started the Women’s Vegetable Growing Project, providing peanut and vegetable seeds and a 100-pound bag of rice to 30 small farmers. They had no cash to buy any seed to restart crops. With the rice, they could feed their families with this diet staple before their harvest.
A small start, but the first harvest results were immediate and spectacular. By raising peanuts, these rice farmers within four months grew crops worth three times their normal profit in one-third the time.
By growing peanuts and produce like cucumbers, peppers and corn in half-acre gardens, the growers could earn $200. Yes, that’s three times their regular profit from 10 months of back-breaking hand-planting and harvesting rice!
We called them “millionaires” because this was worth millions in Sierra Leone’s deeply devalued currency. It’s only gotten worse since the Ebola virus decimated the country. In the last year, the economy lost over 20 percent of its value.
For small growers, this is disastrous. The cost of food and other daily necessities continue to soar. The government just cut their budget by 30 percent as an austerity move, and now removed fuel subsidies, doubling the price of fuel. It means food and necessities will be more expensive than ever.
Growing peanuts and other vegetables helps diversify crops and reduces risk for these subsistence farmers.
They usually have nothing left over to sell, after feeding their children one or two meals a day. Nothing left to send them to school.
They can’t get ahead when they can’t invest even $20 in seed, fertilizer or tools.
Less than a third of Sierra Leone teens attend school. That’s often because a family’s entire annual cash income won’t pay for junior/senior high school fees and uniforms costing $50.
Some families go into debt to send a child to secondary school. That’s like having a mortgage. It takes years to pay off the loan with high interest rates, making the cost 20 to 30 times the original amount.
The Women’s Vegetable Growing Project is intended as a three-year program for 450 women wanting to participate. Sherbro Foundation funded another successful group of 75 women farmers in early 2016.
But we then ran out of money for the project.
So, nearly 400 eager women are waiting to take part to ensure food for their families throughout the year and get their children educated.
Research around the world has shown that women spend most of their income locally, helping build the local economy and small businesses. This strengthens their communities.
With your help, we can make more Bumpeh Chiefdom families productive in 2017.
Just $75 will supply one woman vegetable farmer with peanut and vegetable seed for a half-acre garden, a drying tarp to preserve their yield and 100 pounds of rice.
Any donation will help put more families on the path to self-sufficiency. You can donate HERE.
For the next month, we’ll even match your donation, doubling the impact of your gift!