The project started with sensitization seminar for members of Ahiara women Association on a type of farming that allowed them to turn their kitchen waste into organic manure and utilize a portion of their backyard to grow variety of nutritious crops and fruits., ensuring availability of nutrient-rich food all year round. Excited to gaining knowledge that will enhance their living, 120 members of Ahiara Women Association especially pregnant women and nursing mothers were present at the sensitization seminar held in February 2018. At the end, 3 members of the women Association who are mothers with children under 5 years were selected as beneficiaries of the hands-on/practical demonstration. 9 Capacity building sessions on backyard farming and nutrition education were conducted and was very interactive as the women worked individually and teams to set-up their kitchen garden design; selected different crops and fruits which they planted such as Cocoyam, Maize, Okro, Pineapple, Cassava, Waterleaf, Tomatoes e.t.c; implemented lessons learnt in terms of farming techniques and have harvested those with short life cycle. Our biggest successes include:
- Increasing the knowledge of 120 women from Ahiara Community on Backyard Farming, its techniques, operation and maintenance.
- Training and empowering 3 Mothers with children under 5 to set-up their backyard farms as demonstration plots.
- 100% distribution of farm crops and fruits
- Use of 100% domestically made organic fertilizer
- 80% germination rate
- 85% growth rate
- 75% harvest of crops with short life cycle
What challenges did or does your project face?
Our major challenge was not raising the total amount required for the project hence some activities were redefined or not implemented such as number of beneficiaries selected for the practical demonstration session and purchase of farming equipment for distribution to the proposed 5 beneficiaries selected for hands-on learning. In addition, due to the fact that the project was not a revolving scheme, the women were concerned that the project sustainability may not be achieved. Furthermore, the women experienced pest and animal attack on their crops and fruits during the planting season such as weevils eating their maize, caterpillars eating their Okro and squirrel eating the shoots of their vegetables.
How are you working to overcome them?
To ensure available funds were enough for the sensitization seminar and hands-on learning, we reduced the number of beneficiaries selected for the practical demonstration to 3 mothers with children under 5. Additionally, we agreed with stakeholders not to purchase farming equipment but opted for temporal donation of farming tools such as hoes, shovel, cutlass, watering can e.t.c by members of the women association for the period of the demonstration. Also, the Women Association were informed of our innovative strategy where proceeds from the demonstration farms will be revolved as inputs for the next planting season and a percentage donated to members of the women Association to encourage other women willing to set-up their own kitchen gardens hence continuation will be ensured. Furthermore, pests were controlled using local materials such as burning of dry leaves and sticks without kerosene to ashes which was sprinkled on the leaves of the plants and shoots which prevented further pest attacks while palm fronds were used to make ridges around the vegetables and prevented further squirrel attacks.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
Through the project, Circuit Pointe has learned that building alliance with a community contact person yielded a significant impact on the Women Association’s preparedness and we will adopt similar integrated approach in future projects. Other lessons learnt include:
- Our use of the local language “Ibo” for communication during project activities made the women feel comfortable enough to participate actively during the interactive session, speaking openly and freely.
- Our video presentations during the sensitization seminar impacted more knowledge and resonated with the participants as against the conventional write-up presentations.
- Communicating with stakeholders on project status contributed to the success of the project as they made key suggestions when changes needed to be made to the project activities. During each project activity, phone numbers of participants were collected which enabled us communicate effectively to all stakeholders using SMS blast. Each project activity was summarized in 160 characters to inform stakeholders on on-going project activity, remind them of their deliverables or give feedback on a recently conducted activity. This strategy helped us maintain close contact with stakeholders and enabled follow-up outreach.