Helping Families Grow Better Food
Close to 70% of people in developing countries live in rural areas and most of them depend on agriculture as a food source. Yet food security remains a major issue. Many of these farmers are women who live on less than $2 a day and have limited rights to own land and limited power to make household financial decisions. Lack of resources and knowledge about nutrition have many of these families subsisting on staple foods with little nutritional value like highly milled corn, rice and cassava. Such diets can lead to deficiencies in vital micronutrients that result in severe delays in mental and physical development and compromised immune systems in young children, as well as poor health for their mothers.
Helen Keller International’s Enhanced Homestead Food Production programs empower women from poor households in Africa and Asia with the education and resources needed to raise their own nutritious foods. We work with local farmers and through community organizations to establish Village Model Farms and Farmer Field Schools where women receive hands-on training in gardening and farming practices. By working with respected members of the community and established local organizations, we ensure that the knowledge stays within local communities for years to come. Our programs promote growing and eating iron-rich green leafy vegetables, vitamin A-rich fruits, and vital protein sources such as poultry, goats and fish.
We are helping impoverished communities improve food security sustainably.
By the end of 2016, our programs will have reached approximately more than 1,230,000 families in Africa and Asia.
In African countries, we also promote growing and eating orange sweet potatoes, a vitamin A-rich superfood. 44% of pre-schoolers in Sub-Saharan Africa are vitamin A deficient, leaving them at much greater risk of dying before their fifth birthday. Orange sweet potatoes are easy to grow and one small portion daily has enough vitamin A for a child to grow healthy and strong. By the end of 2017, these programs will have reached more than 150,000 families in three African countries.
In addition to agricultural training and tools, we provide women with education on the healthiest ways to feed their infants and young children, as well as themselves. We also offer women entrepreneurial skills training on selling surplus produce at local markets. The ability to earn this extra income gives them more decision making power in their homes and a means to send their children to school, build wells, access electricity and improve their quality of life.