MERCY CORPS: Sprouting new potential for a new family farm

Ezra Millstein/Mercy Corps
Lydia Ndimu Mutua and her husband, at their small shop.

Lydia originally started farming in 2015 as a means of feeding her family. In the past four years, farming has evolved into an additional source of income. With support from Mercy Corps’ AgriFin program, Lydia is increasing her crop yield, buying livestock and insuring her seeds in case they don’t produce crops.

In the two years she’s been using AgriFin’s new platform, she’s been able to get support for her farm in a wide range of areas, including soil testing and advice on what kinds of fertilizer to use and seeds to plant. Local seeds can often be low in quality and produce no crops when faced with inconsistent rainfall. Seeds certified by AgriFin partners still struggle due to low or inconsistent rainfall — but produce more yield than local seeds, Lydia says.

With her earnings, Lydia was able to make her first livestock purchase, a brown and white goat to provide milk for her and her family. She also uses the mobile platform to learn about which vaccinations her goat needs to stay healthy. Good crop yields and sufficient rainfall mean that a better life is within reach for everyone in the community. Families are fed. Communities live in peace. They’re healthy. Children get the quality education they deserve and can build a better future for themselves. Life is good.

“It is very important to get quality education because the world is changing. If you’ll not have quality education then you’ll have no job,” Lydia says. “So I need them to get a high-quality education through the farming because I have nowhere to get the money from.”

When there isn’t enough rainfall, however, she, her family and her community suffer. Interpersonal relationships in the community and surrounding areas suffer. Diseases spread with ease. Growing children lose weight. Families skip meals. The overall quality of life decreases substantially.

For Lydia and her family, AgriFin is a lifeline.

If her crops dry up, her seed insurance will ensure that she doesn’t lose any income because of something she can’t control, which is especially important.

With the additional income she’s earned through the mobile platform, she’s been able to expand her business and open a stock shop, which she runs with her husband.

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