Meet Melkam: Why CARE invests in women and small-scale farmers

Meet Melkam: Why CARE invests in women and small-scale farmers

6/4/18

In a world where over 800 million people suffer from hunger and malnutrition, CARE recognizes the importance of empowering those most-impacted.

Meet Melkam Achamyelhu and her husband, Admasu Mulu.

For a long time, Melkam’s and Admasu’s two-hectare farm, about the size of three soccer fields, didn’t produce enough food to generate an income and feed their five children. So, when CARE’s five-year Graduation with Resilience to Achieve Sustainable Development (GRAD) program started a Village Economic and Social Association in their community, they were eager to join.

At CARE, we focus on the role that women, small-scale farmers and natural resource management plays in the battle against hunger and malnutrition, because together, they play a crucial role in promoting the food security of communities worldwide. 80 percent of the food in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia is produced by small-scale farmers. Additionally, CARE knows that 100-150 million fewer people would be chronically hungry if women had equal access as men to resources like land, education and credit.

CARE promotes long-term food and nutrition security through programming and advocacy work. CARE promotes long-term food and nutrition security through programming and advocacy work.

Once Melkam and her husband joined the GRAD program in Ethiopia, they quickly started saving money and receiving trainings about improved farming techniques, gender equality, nutrition and climate change adaptation. Soon, the family received a loan from the group for an improved potato seed variety.

Because of this investment, their farm produced nearly 4,000 pounds of potatoes from which their family reaped a profit the equivalent of $525 U.S. dollars.

Next, they bought an improved barley seed that was drought resistance, and, again, harvested plenty and sold the excess. Soon, the family’s income increased by nearly $1,000 U.S. dollars from the previous year — that’s more than three times what they were making before they took part in GRAD.

CARE promotes long-term food and nutrition security through programming and advocacy work.

CARE promotes long-term food and nutrition security through our programming and advocacy work. Thanks to our advocates, the Global Food Security Act (GFSA), which solidifies the U.S. government’s commitment to food and nutrition security and to empowering women and small-scale farmers, was signed into law in 2016 after 10 years of advocacy work.

The extra income wasn’t the only benefit to Melkam and her family — GRAD also focused on promoting gender equality on the farm and in the home. Melkam explains, “The project has enabled us to support each other. In short, there is more understanding among family members.” The family also learned about the importance of nutrition and now eat more balanced meals three times a day, and they no longer need to worry about the cost of school fees and supplies for their children.

The GFSA must be reauthorized later this year so more families like Melkam’s can continue to sustainably support themselves and their communities.

CARE and our partners worked hard to ensure language concerning women and small-scale farmers was included in the legislation in 2016, but this progress must be protected through reauthorization of the GFSA in September.

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