Many households in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) struggle to put food on the table. In a country that has immense untapped mineral resources and large tracts of agricultural land, this trend is disturbing. DRC is home to almost 80 million people. Of these, 5.9 million people continue to face acute food insecurity. Children often suffer the brunt of such a crisis.
Moreover, constant internal conflict has left many families in eastern DRC disillusioned and in most cases unsure of where meals will come from. Due to the fighting, there is little or no economic development, jobs are scarce and most people survive on selling the little surplus produce in markets or from occasional odd jobs.
With average family sizes of six to eight people, filling all stomachs becomes a mirage when money is hard to come by.
Feza Angelaine Christine, a 32-year-old mother of six, is one of many people in Kitchanga village that just barely got by. Like any mother around the world, this bothered her immensely. “Before Food for the Hungry came here, we just survived with what we could find. My husband and I planted yams on a small piece of land. We sold what we could to put food on the table. Whatever little was left; we’d take the children to school. ” But FH’s seed multiplication project in her community is planting hope.
The Emilingombe seed multiplication center in Kitchanga sits on a 22-hectare (54 acres) facility that improves the quality of seeds in the community. FH identifies vulnerable beneficiaries and through a Food for Work program, they work on the land and receive a monthly food ration as compensation, usually, 50kgs (110 pounds) of corn, and 8kgs (17 pounds) of peas and 4 liters (1 gallon) of vegetable oil. Eventually, they will also benefit from high quality seeds produced at the center. In addition to the ration, beneficiaries are taught good agronomy practices to increase their yields.
Peasant farmers often applied traditional practices that left them with poor harvests. Crop spacing was an issue, they hardly weeded and the seeds weren’t of the best quality. If a disease struck, they lost their harvest due to poor farming methods. But now with the seeds FH is producing and the knowledge shared, food insecurity will be reduced.
Feza’s confidence is rekindled. “Since I began working here,” she says, “I am sure of food for my family, hunger has reduced. I was always worried about what my children would eat. At times we only ate at night. With the little food, they weren’t healthy.”
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