Growing peanuts and self-reliance

April was a happy month for the Sierra Leone women farmers who joined the Women’s Vegetable Growing project. Within five months come August, these Bumpeh Chiefdom women will be harvesting peanuts and vegetables like corn and cucumbers. And putting cash in their pockets they normally never have.

They’ll be growing more than peanuts. They’ll be growing self-reliance.

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85 women lined up at our partner CCET-SL’s Center, above, in Rotifunk to receive a bale of peanut seed, 100 lbs. of rice to feed their families before the harvest and a large drying tarp to dry their peanut harvest. CCET-SL Executive Director Rosaline Kaimbay, above in yellow, led the festivities to distribute supplies to the women.

With this $75 investment, women can double their incomes and more. They earn more growing peanuts and vegetables than rice. But as subsistence farmers, they eat most of what they normally grow and barter the rest for other things they need. They never had any extra cash to diversify and grow a cash crop like peanuts.

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Mrs. Kaimbay explains to the women the supplies they receive are made possible by a grant from a group of Rotary Clubs, led by the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor. This is the second group of 85 women farmers Rotary Clubs have funded.

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These women break into a song of thanks to be among those joining the Women’s Vegetable Growing project. “The September 2017 group was very, very successful, ” Mrs. Kaimbay said. Women will normally harvest 4 or 5 bushels of peanuts from one bale of seed. The September group was averaging 7 and 8 bushels. With fresh, well dried seed the program seeks out, there will be good germination and a big harvest.

“The women really appreciate being part of the program, ” Mrs. Kaimbay reported. “They are so grateful. And I was so proud [to lead it].”

Started as an Ebola relief project, the Women’s Vegetable Growing program initially focused on smaller, more remote Bumpeh Chiefdom villages. The program has now moved to Greema Section and villages outside Rotifunk.

It’s been one of our most successful programs, helping the women farmers of Bumpeh Chiefdom move from poverty to self-reliance. After funding four groups of women ourselves, Sherbro Foundation is proud to help expand the program by recruiting the support of Rotary Clubs.

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