Support the resumption of agricultural production in the Kasai region through seed fairs

Support the resumption of agricultural production in the Kasai region through seed fairs

11/12/2018

Ngalula Kalombo, a widow and mother of three, returns from the Beya-Bwanga seed fair with a basket of maize and cowpea seeds. Soon, she will be able to cook porridges enriched with cowpea for her children, an essential source of protein for the development of children’s muscles. In the Kasai region, these seeds have become extremely rare since the massive population movements.

Inter-communal conflict forced Ngalula and her family, and so many others, to flee to other villages. “My village was destroyed. We all fled to try to save our lives. I had to abandon my farm, my home and my poultry”, she explains. After finding refuge in the rural district of Bena Leka, Ngalula wanted to resume working in the fields, but she didn’t have access to crop seeds.

Access to quality crop seeds

In order to restore hope among vulnerable populations, FAO launched a food assistance and production project benefiting IDPs, host families and returnees affected by population movements in the Kasai region. About 1 200 households participated in two seed fairs organized by FAO in partnership with the NGO Caritas, and Ngalula was one of them. “At the beginning of the day, I received vouchers valued at CDF 90 000 (USD 55). This allowed me to buy a total of 15 kg of maize seeds and 10 kg of cowpea seeds from various vendors”, she explains.

Seed fairs are one-day temporary markets to distribute seeds through the exchange of vouchers for agricultural inputs, allowing small-scale producers to access quality seeds at subsidized prices. “I was happy to be able to choose the types of seeds myself. Now, I am able to cultivating my field. I am confident that this harvest will provide me with a better life for my children”.

Seed fairs enable vulnerable households to access a wide variety of quality seeds of their choice, as well as to boost suppliers’ business by selling their agricultural inputs among rural communities.

Restoring food production

Most households in the community had no seeds to plant or tools before taking part in the seed fairs. Thanks to the project, they will be able to restore their livelihoods and regain a dignified and independent life. In addition to crop seeds, each household received two hoes. Furthermore, FAO, in partnership with the Provincial Inspectorate for Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, will provide seed multiplication training, organizing farmers in groups.

Learning good agricultural practices will enable Ngalula to produce 1 tonne of maize and cowpea on 1 ha of land. Selling production surplus will allow her to generate about USD 200 per season, so she can prepare 50 nutritious meals for two months for her family and send her children to school.

Strengthening community resilience

FAO’s intervention strategy in the Kasai region aims to rapidly restore agricultural production. Through the distribution of agricultural tools and quality crop and vegetable seeds, households can easily diversify their diets. The intervention was funded by the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund with the objective of strengthening livelihood resilience to shocks and support people’s ability to provide for themselves and their families. Ngalula now sees a glimmer of hope for the future. She wants to continue producing her own food in a better and more prosperous future.