This group of a village’s lead farmers don’t have to be coaxed to come forward!
The upper Wa Valley, where GROW works, has over 1,000 lead farmers. Some were chosen for their farming/leadership ability; some came forward when they heard of an opportunity to do something new.
They all have similar stories: They started small and their success grew. These lead farmers each have a group of 15-30 other women farmers that 'report' to them. The program already reaches over 20,000 women farmers. Thanks to them and their local partners and MEDA, they can now see:
- that soya is better for the soil,
- that soya is more nutritious than maize,
- that an acre field of soya creates a larger yield than the same acre of maize,
- and that this extra production allows them to have some for their families and some to sell.
Through MEDA and their local partners:
- They have been taught better ways to plant and grow the soya.
- They have been taught many new nutritious ways to prepare the soya for their families, which provides a marked improvement in their diets.
- They have learned about value chains – understanding that they can't just grow their crops but need sustainable ways to sell and market them. MEDA has created incentives/loans to local people who want to 'risk' becoming entrepreneurs as well.
One man has begun a soy milk processing plant; other women have been growing soya seeds to sell and they are locating markets to sell their soya, and so again the sustainable chain continues to grow.