Lead Farmer guides her peers to change

In Ejeda, a rural commune of the South of Madagascar, agriculture is the main source of income the population. However, because of drought, harvest is poor, and the rural communities face a severe food crisis.  “Last year, we could not harvest anything, and we went through a food crisis. We used to eat cactus fruit for breakfast and dinner. When we didn’t find anything to eat, we went to bed with an empty stomach», said Eramisaotra Maminiaina Jeanine, mother of two children, living in Ejeda.

Today, this young mother is the lead of a Farmer Field School (FFS) set up by AINA project in Ejeda. In 2021, AINA project was launched to provide emergency food assistance and agricultural support in her region. To complement with the monthly food rations, the project provides home gardening trainings to beneficiary farmers through the FFS groups.

Convinced of the benefits of home gardening, Jeanine organizes daily meetings with the 18 members of her group. “Every morning, the group come together to learn different techniques and to water the vegetables. I help them apply the techniques I received from the project, such as crop rotation and crop association. With the seeds provided by the project, we also learn how to grow new species such as zucchini, eggplant, and leeks”, she explained.

Driven by a strong motivation to change, Jeanine encouraged all the group members to work together and to dig a well next to their garden, where they can fetch water to water the crops. Their efforts were soon rewarded. Within about three months, they could start harvesting and using the crops for different purposes. « Our situation has improved a lot. We eat some of the vegetables with the rice provided by the project. When we finish our stock of rice, we sell part of the harvest. After a few weeks, we share the profit between us”, Jeanine said.  

Today, Jeanine witnesses a positive change in other aspects of her life and her peers: “My children are healthier. The same goes for the other FFS members because they have money to buy food and to take their children to the hospital when they are sick. The children’s education is also improving. Because their stomach is full, they are more motivated to go to school, and they are becoming better in math!”.

Jeanine is happy to participate in making a difference in her community with the project’s help. “I enjoy teaching the others because I see the benefits. I also appreciate the support you provide because our life is really changing”, she said.

Jeanine with some members of farmer field school of her village.