Maize, Beans, and a “Beautiful” Cow

16 May 2019

Paslida Aseka stands next to the cow she purchased with funds from her excess crops.

For the past 18 years, Paslida Aseka has been farming her family’s plot of land in northern Kenya. Her life is filled with planting, tilling, and harvesting her crops—in addition to caring for her children and her cow.

But she wasn’t always blessed with such abundance.

Four years ago, Paslida was harvesting only half of what she harvests now. She had to sell all her maize and bean crop just to make enough money to pay for her family’s food and schooling. She’d often have to work long hours hauling water for her neighbors to afford to send her children to school. Sometimes she even had to find other additional work to buy food to feed her family.

Most farmers in Kenya live in similar circumstances. Smallholder farming, or farming small plots of family land, produces over 75 percent of the world’s food. These farmers have the benefit of owning their own land, and many in central Africa enjoy a climate that allows for two planting seasons. But these smallholder farmers are limited by their lack of proper training in farming techniques and access to high-quality seeds.

Paslida’s typical harvest of maize and beans—the crops she harvests during the long growing season between February and August—was only enough to fill five waist-high sacks.

Before she began farming on this land, the land belonged to her parents. Before that, her grandparents. In many areas of Africa, families are farming the same land that their ancestors farmed.

“My parents harvested over 10 bags of crops each year from my same land,” Paslida says. With her crop yield appearing smaller and smaller, Paslida had to confront a frightening truth: her land was becoming less fertile.

So when Paslida was asked if she wanted to invest in One Acre Fund, she was intrigued. The organization, she was told, would teach her planting techniques and get her access to higher-quality seeds—all she had to do was take out a small loan against the seeds and the training.

Now, four years later, she’s more than doubled her harvests.

One Acre Fund has helped hundreds of smallholder farmers like Paslida. The organization teaches proper seed spacing and how to manage a mix between compost and fertilizer. Before the training, Paslida would try to use compost as much as she could, but she often didn’t have enough.

She has now learned how to use an industrially made fertilizer in addition to her home-grown compost, and as a result her crops are flourishing.

“I’m learning to make my own compost, because without a compost or fertilizer, I don’t harvest anything,” she says.

She has enough food to feed her family and extra to sell to pay her children’s school fees. She purchased a cow—she named it Mrembo, which means “beautiful” in Swahili. Occasionally, she’s even able to watch her neighbors’ children or help with her neighbors’ harvests, because she doesn’t have to work extra to put food on her table.

Latter-day Saint Charities is proud to be a supporter of One Acre Fund. We’re helping provide funds that help expand One Acre Fund’s training programs and develop better growing techniques for different soils and crops across Africa. This support is directly helping smallholders like Paslida.

“My family is consuming more food, and I have enough food in the home,” Paslida says.

To learn more about One Acre Fund, visit their website.

To learn more about Latter-day Saint Charities and our efforts in food security, visit our signature program page.