What’s Red and Shiny and Ending Poverty?

Others, Food , Stories

Contributed by: Food for the Hungry Canada

There was no food on the table tonight, and Tigist was starting to get desperate. Her five children were hungry.

For years, farming her own food was a gruelling process. She wasn’t getting much out of it. For hours each day she’d toil in the garden, farming the same crops she’d been farming for years. Maize, maize, and more maize. But each year the crops were less productive. And on years with less rain, her family suffered alongside the crops.

Life was in a downward spiral and something needed to change—fast. Tigist was facing extreme poverty.

In 2017, she decided to try something different. Years ago, Food for the Hungry had started working with her community in Sasiga, and often hosted agricultural training workshops. Tigist attended one of the training sessions on vegetable production. FH gave her seeds and encouraged her to begin rotating crops while increasing the variety of crops in her gardens—crops that wouldn’t deplete the soil. She learned that by working a smaller plot of land with these techniques, she could farm more efficiently and take home bigger yields.

So, Tigist started with tomatoes. It was hard work, especially at first, learning how to work with new kinds of plants. But it was not long before her fields and finances were growing. The first crop of tomatoes she sold brought in the equivalent of CAD $160, a staggering number for her. In three months’ time, she made nearly CAD $350!

The entire community is impressed. In a few short years, Tigist has turned her situation around completely. She can now cover school expenses for her children. She feeds her children the tomatoes as well, which has supplied their growing bodies with much-needed vitamins and nutrients.

Now Tigist talks about buying a cow for the family. She’ll buy it with the money from her tomato sales. The cow’s milk with be an added boost of nutrition for her children, and any excess milk with be a boost to her pocketbook. If her cow has a calf, she may even give it to her neighbours.

For Tigist, all it took was tomato seeds and training, and then her creative vision for what life could look like was unlocked. Now she’s inspiring others to do the same.