When I look around our sub-location I see a change happening. According to the farmers the change is happening because of us. When I heard that I was flabbergasted! How can we have been part of making a change when we have only been here for 3 months????
The explanation is simple: the area is ready for change. They have never had a reason to change before, but now they feel the momentum we are creating and they want to reap the benefits 100%. How they do that? Here is how:
We have come in with a project that teaches the farmers about farming skills and business skills, and that gives them farm inputs for a cash crop and a food crop on credit. This means we have dropped a stone in the water of change.
Now the farmers have realized that the stone either falls to the water bed without a splash or it can create a tidal wave, it all depends on the type of throw. And, that is up to the farmers! We have set very few requirements for how they should organize themselves as we do not want to overload the farmers given that our project is novel enough in itself. This means the farmers have a big role in shaping the output of this project.
This approach has resulted in a tremendous ripple effect:
Farmers have introduced table banking, which is a type of savings and loans process where farmers bring money to every meeting and put it in a pile. Some groups are choosing to use the pile of money for saving to repay the loan to us later, and others use it as a loan for group members who need to pay for school fees, lease extra land, start-up capital, etc.
Farmers have also made their own rules for coming late, not showing up to meetings, and not participating. Some have even already decided how to handle group members who are not working hard. These rules include fines, taking over other members’ shambas and dropping members.
Last but definitely not least, two groups have started an infrastructure advancement project that includes their whole village! They believe that now when they are Momentum Farmers they should also be proud of how they live, and the small walking paths to their individual houses and shambas are not suited for this new life, according to them. So, they have mobilized everybody in the village and they are now out there using their jembes (local spades), digging up the shrubs and weeds to expand the paths so that they are big enough to carry vehicles.
These are the ripples after just 3 months. I wonder what will happen in the next 3 months!