Strengthening good agricultural practices to boost production

Strengthening good agricultural practices to boost production

15/03/2019

In the village of Kasheke, located near Lake Kivu in the province of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rachel Akonkwa goes to the community field of the farmers’ group she is a member of to harvest groundnut and haricot beans. Now, every member of the group can purchase quality seeds of improved varieties. “Before, we had no knowledge of quality seeds”, says Rachel. “We used what was available on the market, without worrying about the quality. In order to have a good harvest, we had to sow in large quantities on a small area. Losses were huge”.

Rachel is a member of one of the 15 000 smallholder households who benefited from a training by the National Seed Service (SENASEM) as part of the FAO/WFP joint resilience programme funded by the Government of Germany. The training helps them to sow in lines, respect planting distance, choose the right soil, improve maintenance and recognize good quality seeds. This helps to avoid losses along the food value chain.

Producing more with less

Her plot of 1 ha didn’t allow Rachel to maximize her yield. Nearly all of her production was for household consumption. Selling the little surplus she had, generated barely enough income to pay for her children’s school fees. Since she has started adopting good agricultural practices, she has noticed a significant difference in her production. “I learned how to weed my field without damaging other seedlings. And more importantly, I use less seeds to sow”, she adds.

The programme to support smallholder value chains aims to contribute to peace and stabilization in the provinces of North and South Kivu. For more than two decades, the Democratic Republic of the Congo experienced a protracted crisis due to the continued armed conflict between the Congolese government forces and armed groups, severely affecting communities. Although a lull in certain areas has contributed to a decrease in new displacements and an increase in returns, humanitarian challenges remain, with about 13.1 million people severely food insecure.

Enhancing community resilience

FAO and WFP are working together to support rural farming communities who are gradually returning to their villages after being forced to flee. The initiative aims not only to strengthen the agricultural and financial capacities of small-scale farmers to promote sustainable agriculture, but also to support community organizations through activities that increase social cohesion.

“Through the adoption of good agricultural practices, the harvest of our community field has been particularly good”, says Rachel. “Being a member of the farmers’ group will have an impact on my income. Now that my production has increased, I am able to provide several meals for my family and pay for the healthcare of my children”, she adds with a smile.

The training on seed multiplication not only increases the availability of quality seed, but also creates favourable conditions for rapid response to important supply needs, especially in agricultural emergencies. By strengthening the resilience of farmers’ groups through the production and marketing of quality seeds, communities can improve their incomes and boost agricultural production.