During its first year of work in the Comoros Dahari has offered meaningful hands-on support to around 400 of Anjouan’s farmers.This means that around 2,000 people – including the farmers and their family members – have benefited from our work programme. This has been achieved alongside our efforts to develop as an organisation, to establish our place in the Comorian institutional landscape and to pursue financial security. To best provide this support, a team of six technicians have set up home in the villages where we intervene, and they have spent 80 per cent of their time out in the field.
Dahari’s first set of impressive results has come from its training courses in potato cultivation both in and out of normal planting season. Eleven demonstration plots in four villages were set up in partnership with some of Anjouan’s most enthusiastic producers in order to demonstrate techniques to improve yields, such as drip irrigation, compost production, and fertilisation.
These demonstration plots have also become learning centres for Farmer Field Schools. The 147 participants who signed up not only received high-quality potato seeds thanks to Dahari’s partnership with CIRAD and FNAC-FA, but were also able to develop their skills through a set of five training sessions from the Farmer Field Schools, with a total of 40 training sessions taking place both in and out of season. Judging by the data we’ve gathered, we estimate that 37.5 tonnes of potatoes have been produced from the 7.5 tonnes of seeds that were distributed. This has generated estimated revenue of 102,000 Comorian Francs per beneficiary (equivalent of around 200 euros). We are grateful to the Swiss Embassy in Madagascar for funding our potato cultivation campaign (both normal and off-season planting), and the British High Commission in Mauritius for funding the off-season campaign.
Alongside these efforts, Dahari has also provided support for campaigns to promote market gardening with the delivery of 7,500g of high-quality seed. Following the method described above, we have helped to set up 22 demonstration plots and have provided 231 producers with the seeds they need. In addition to this, producers have also been able to widen their skill sets by attending a series of six Farmer Field School training sessions, which have been held in nine different villages, with a total of 60 sessions taking place over the year. We are grateful to the Swiss Embassy in Madagascar and the Programme Frano-Comorien de Co-développement (PFCC – off season campaing only) for their support to our market gardening campaigns in 2013.
Despite some initial difficulties getting people involved, Dahari has managed to get 31% of our beneficiaries to attend at least 80% of sessions. We view this as a success, especially as no expense has been incurred, with producers attending the sessions without benefitting from per diems.
Dahari has also helped six entrepreneurs to open local agricultural input supply stores. All were given start-up stock and three technical training sessions on how to use phytosanitary products responsibly (so that they will be able to offer valuable advice when making a sale). We are proud to announce that, by the end of the year, each supply store had already had to renew its stock twice on average, and that five stores had chosen to carry on trading in 2014 (the sixth has now closed down). These stores were developed thanks to financial support of the PFCC.
In addition to this, Dahari has also run campaigns for hedgerow planting to reduce erosion and fertilise plots. We piloted a methodology based on getting the village committees to manage to the work and the sharing of tree cuttings amongst the beneficiaries, with those who had benefited in previous years providing cuttings to those in need. We focused our campaign on a single pilot village, and we were able to plant hedgerows on 12 plots. This is few, but we’ve learnt that circulating cuttings can be a good local alternative to costly hedgerow planting, particularly as the process can be managed in its entirety by local communities and doesn’t cost anything to run. In this vein, Dahari has continued to develop its approach to circulating the gliricidia cuttings generated by village committees.
We’ve also set out to get more young people and women involved in these activities, and to develop out-of-season crops, and we’re pleased to share the following results: on average, 32% of the people we work with (across all aspects of our agricultural support) are women.
Building on this will be a priority for Dahari in 2014.