For many people living in extreme poverty, food scarcity is real - and feeding their families is an all-consuming, top-of-mind priority. It's not about preference or variety or deliciousness - it's about calories and energy and nutrients. It's about filling children's bellies so that they can go to school and learn. It's about eating enough to provide needed energy to make it through the day. It's about survival.
Opportunity's agricultural entrepreneurs are working to improve the quantity and quality of their yields, addressing food scarcity from the source. With tools and training from Opportunity International, these farmers are moving from subsistence to commercial agriculture, producing more food to feed more people.
For subsistence famers, an investment from Opportunity empowers them to grow their plot and produce additional crops to eat, but also propels them into the broader economy.
As commercial farmers, they can employ their neighbors, sell their excess products and diversify their families' diets with their new sources of income.
A great example of incredible agricultural entrepreneurs is the Isabane Cooperative in Rwanda. Isabane began with 450 maize farmers growing on 40 hectares. In 2012, they approached Opportunity International with a challenge to find a market for their modest production.
Today, Isbane has 725 farmers. The group, who until recently only focused on maize production, has now diversified to add rice and an additional 65 hectares. They attribute their success to Opportunity's Agriculture Finance program, which has provided capital and extensive training in farming practices and business management. The farmers have increased their yield from 0.4 tons per hectare to 3.7 tons per hectare, which equates to increased income for everyone. And increased production means more jobs! With increased prodution, the Cooperative has had to hire more people, transforming the entire community. As one member said, "This is good for everyone - more people in our community are transformed because they are productive and can support their families."
And when more farmers are working and more food is on the table, more children eat and more families thrive. At Opportunity International, we are proud to invest in agricultural entrpeneurs who are creating jobs, filling bellies and transforming their communties.