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The village of Bano Koira in the north of Niger. A young woman prepares the leaves of shrub collected in the morning. The latest figures show over 6 million people need food aid in Niger. Caritas Niger (CADEV) with support from Caritas internationally aims to provide food and support to farming for 400,000 people. Credits: Ryan Worms/Caritas June 2012

The village of Bano Koira in the north of Niger. A young woman prepares the leaves of shrub collected in the morning. The latest figures show over 6 million people need food aid in Niger. Caritas Niger (CADEV) with support from Caritas internationally aims to provide food and support to farming for 400,000 people.
Credits: Ryan Worms/Caritas June 2012

By Ryan Worms, Caritas Internationalis 

“I want to set-up a small business to sell rice, flour and sugar. The last time, I made a tidy profit. I need 1000 gourdes (US$25),” says Ariette Tessono.

Ariette is one of the members of the solidarity fund set up by Caritas in Labiche, in the south of Haiti. The women who are part of the fund are taught techniques so they can grow kitchen gardens.

“Thanks to the training I’ve received from Natasha, who’s an agronomist, I now have a lovely garden full of chilli peppers,” says Jaunasse, another member of the project. “What I make from selling my produce at the market is enough to feed my family well, buy uniforms and school books and pay for my children’s education.”

“Today is a day of hope,” says Haman Abdou. “Thanks to Caritas’s help, I know that I’ll have something to sow in my field once the rains begin to fall.”

In Niger, Caritas helps small farmers face up to climate change by giving them drought-resistant seeds or by digging wells so women don’t have to walk miles to draw water.

In North Kivu, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Adèle and a dozen other women are working hard in their field. “We’ve sown a crop of peanuts and we’re just pulling up some weeds so they don’t take over everything,” she says.

“Up to 60 women are now part of the project and we’ve been given seeds for peanuts, green beans and peas. With the first harvest we’ve bought maize seeds and look at the result! We’ve got two hectares of good maize that we’re going to be able to harvest soon.”

This project enables women who have survived war and the worst violence to take control of their lives and improve their families’ lives. Each year, Caritas Internationalis receives the stories of hundreds of men and women who have seen their lives transformed by Caritas projects. These personal stories show us how supporting agriculture is pivotal in the fight against poverty.

One person out of eight in the world goes to bed hungry. The 16th October is World Food Day. This year the theme is “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world”.

Martina Liebsch, policy director at Caritas Internationalis, says, “Supporting farming, especially on a small scale and kitchen gardens is strategic. It will help thousands of families to become self-sufficient. They will no longer have to rely on commercial food providers but will be able to grow their own food and sell what’s left over at the market.

Also, this will help stop the “exodus” from the countryside. Investing in farming and giving people better access to the land, tools and seeds is key to enabling them to escape poverty.”

This is why Caritas Internationalis joins in with the call of the United Nations to highlight how small farmer should be made a cornerstone of the global fight against poverty and the development of peace.