Our Project I Five for Fifty
What does Five for Fifty mean?
Five for Fifty is a unique project approach developed by GreenRise Sierra Leone for the efficient and sustainable use of donations. We use donations to establish plantations with a size of 5 hectares in our project communities. These are planted with permanent crops such as oil palms and cocoa and groundnuts. After planting, these permanent crops can be harvested for several decades. Each and every year, the project plantation generates revenues, which are invested in the project community. The yearly revenues from the 5-hectare plantations serve as the basis for the mechanical cultivation of another 50 hectares of land for the project village. As this generates an immense benefit for the project community, it takes only a few years until each and every family of the community can live a life without extreme poverty. Thus, instead of being lost halfway through, donations are the kickoff for long-term development in our project villages.
What are the effects of donations for the project Five for Fifty?
With a monthly donation of, for example, 10 Euro we can finance a part of the cocoa and oil palm seedlings for the establishment of a new project plantation. Due to the great benefit of the project, smallholders are able to provide a safe and balanced diet to their children. Also, they can afford schooling fees and materials for them. Thus, not only do donations alleviate extreme poverty in our communities but also they lay the foundation for the education and perspectives of the younger generation in Sierra Leone.
Five for Fifty, this means:
Oil palm, cocoa and groundnuts - sustainable and ecological
Traditionally, the palm fruits are harvested from the crown of an oil palm and afterwards mashed with bare feet in pits. After stirring and adding water from a nearby pond, the oil gradually floats to the top where it can be skimmed for further processing.
The traditional processing of palm fruits is very tedious and little effective because of two reasons. Firstly, the quality of wild-growing oil palm fruits is poor, and secondly, farmers lack tools with which to process the palm oil. Consequently, farmer families barely produce enough palm oil to care for their own families. While palm oil is not necessarily considered healthy in Germany, in Sierra Leone it constitutes an essential source of vitamin A which children otherwise lack because of their oftentimes extremely unbalanced diet consisting mainly of rice. A chronic lack of vitamin A can result in children going blind.
In spite of the processing of palm oil being very labour-intensive, it gives parents the chance to care for their families on the long-run. This is because, after planting, permanent crops provide secure earnings over decades. Therefore, alongside oil palms, we support farmers in the cultivation of cocoa and groundnuts. In our project plantations, these are intercropped. This is particularly sustainable, as it makes it possible to do without herbicides, pesticides and synthetical fertilizers. Additionally, in a central processing station, smallholders are given the chance to process their oil palm, cocoa and groundnut harvests. Our station is equipped with processing tools that make the arduous, manual processing a lot easier and efficient.
Background Info on Agriculture in Sierra Leone
Most Sierra Leoneans are smallholder farmers who engage in subsistence agriculture. This means they only live off what they grow on their fields, barely having any commercial revenues. Without paid work, work and health insurances or pensions they lack all kinds of securities. While the only security they have is their land, this often is not enough to make sure farmer families get by. The majority of them lives in severe poverty. In case of drought farmers’ harvests dry up on the field and their families, not having any emergency savings, will go hungry. If farmers lack seeds to grow vegetables and fruits their children are fed only with rice which increases their risk of going blind as a consequence of lack of vitamins. Under these circumstances, even with hard work parents are often unable to care for their families.
Rural Life is Difficult in Sierra Leone
Africa offers an immense agricultural potential due to millions of hectares of fertile soils lying fallow.
A few million Sierra Leoneans could actually be a lot better off, as Sierra Leone’s climate and soils hold great potential for smallholders to care well for their families. GreenRise empowers them to tap the natural wealth of their country sustainably. What is needed most for them to be able to do that, is agricultural machinery and know-how about the best techniques to cultivate their land more productively. We enable farmers to make the step from mere subsistence agriculture to commercial farming by providing small tractors, palm oil presses and seeds. Thus, instead of consuming the entire produce themselves, farmer families can sell a surplus on local markets and earn their own revenues. This way, they can create development in many other sectors such as health and education.
Raja is 35 years old and a mother of two boys. Her husband is sick and needs medical treatment which the family cannot afford. In April, Raja burned down the piece of forest (see picture 4 above) and collected to charred pieces of wood to sell as firewood. She needs to plough and prepare the land quickly because as soon as the rains set in, she and her children will plant rice and cassava. Because of the recent burning of the field, the ashes now provide the soil with sufficient nutrients to make sure the harvest sustains Raja, her husband and their children. Yet, the soil will be mostly depleted already by next year, and Raja will be forced to move on and burn down another piece of forest to sustain her family.
Project: Improved Rice Cultivation, Pujehun
GreenRise finances small tractors to facilitate rice cultivation
Woman harvesting rice with manual tools
In April and Mai `18 GreenRise discussed development projects with local NGOs. In Southern Sierra Leone a local NGO, the Pujehun Youth Development Organisation, provides tractors against a cost-covering fee to smallholder families. The area has abundant fertile grasslands, and the families are able to multiply their income by many times. Yet, the organisation is the only one providing such a service to farmers and it disposes of only three small tractors. Thus, in the region, most farmers and their families still live in poverty and fight for their survival by engaging in arduous manual field work.
A few thousand hectares of fertile soils lie fallow in the surroundings of Pujehun. We are working towards providing seeds and small tractors to provide more farmers such as Raja, her husband and their children with a chance to exit extreme poverty.
To see pictures, run over with mouse
The mere physical labour we dispose of is not enough to cultivate bigger areas. If we had some machinery, we could earn more from agriculture, and we wouldn’t be dependent on our children for their labour. Our climate (Pujehun, Southern Sierra Leone) is good for rice cultivation. But instead of eating mostly only rice, with higher revenues from agriculture we can also buy vegetables and fish for our children.
Picture: Pujehun, Village Chief
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GreenRise Sierra Leone e.V.