The Oe’ayo farmer group started almost by accident when a plot of land donated to a church youth group by Welmince Kase and her husband was left fallow. So, after a year of the youth’s inactivity, Welmince decided on another idea for her land. Knowing that she would have help from CWS, she invited nine of her neighbors with young children to join her in cultivating the land.
Before joining the Oe’ayo farmers group, the nine families sold their tamarind seeds during the June to November dry season, but this did not sustain the families, and specially their young children well who do not have a well-balanced diet because of their parents’ poverty. This year, though, things are different.
When Welmince and her husband decided to help their neighbors start a community garden, they also petitioned the district government’s Food Security Service Office for a small pump to carry water from a well about 150 meters below the planned garden plot. CWS further supported the group by teaching them better ways to grow their vegetables with better soil preparation, different planting techniques, organic fertilizers and pesticides use and better harvesting techniques.
“Before, this land was barren. But now, in just a few months, we have all seen change”, Welmince told CWS staff recently. “Not only are there enough fresh vegetables for the families in the group, there is surplus for group members to sell! We have made 700,000 Rupiah ($50) already”. This is a great deal of money for these families, and CWS staff is impressed by the Oe’ayo group successes of the, and looks forward to further supporting the group. In the future, staff will support women to form a savings and loan group to build more resilience against poverty since the Oe’ayo farmers are a new partner group of Timor Zero Hunger initiative, whose main goal is to reduce food insecurity and improve nutrition in families, especially those with young children.
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