Before joining Timor Zero Hunger activities with CWS, 33-year-old Julio de Jesus liked to joke that he only planted weeds in his garden. “I didn’t know how to plant vegetables properly, nor was I in a farmers group”, he said. But after he joined a simple ag information and skill-building session, Julio learned how to do it all! And, after coming together with his neighbors, who also needed to improve their farming, Julio and they decided to form a group to share responsibilities for growing vegetables better…and grow their incomes in the bargain.
In early September (2019) Julio and his group planted bokchoy, string beans, eggplant; just recently they harvested for eating at home and selling in the market. In October alone, the group profited about $15 (net). With this money, the group will start a kind of cooperative. Each member farmer saves money with the other members to buy materials and seeds as needed. “Five months ago, if you told me I would be in an ag coop, I wouldn’t have believed you. But now, I am so happy to be a part of it”, says Julio.
CWS staff work with Julio’s group to share additional information about financial literacy and family nutrition too. They are able to share this information to the group easily, as both directly address Timor Zero Hunger aims to reduce food insecurity by increasing access to nutritious food year-round for poor rural families, and by supporting savings and loan groups so families can improve their livelihoods.
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