One Acre Fund officially launched full-scale operations in two new countries last year, Uganda and Malawi. We served more than 2,600 farmers in Malawi and 3,700 in Uganda in 2016, and we’re excited about the potential for growth in both countries in the years to come.
Farmers throughout our Kenya operations were able to use a new mobile money repayment system in 2016, thanks to the hard work of our staff who ran trials of the program over the past three years. Mobile money transfers are helping us improve our efficiency, financial sustainability, and impact. Because field staff don’t need to spend as much time focused on collecting loan repayment, they have more time to provide farmers with high-quality agriculture trainings.
Drought across several growing areas meant that some farmers experienced reduced harvests. Clients in the worst-affected areas received crop insurance payments to help mitigate the effects of the drought. Moses Odoli, a farmer from Numbuku village in Western Kenya (pictured above), said his entire maize crop failed during last year’s long rains season because of the drought. The family survived using income from sukuma wiki and other vegetables grown on a portion of their land small enough to be watered by hand from a nearby well. In spite of their difficulties, Moses is optimistic about 2017.
“I decided to stay with One Acre Fund in the next season because when I first enrolled, I saw a big difference in my harvest,” he said. “The dry weather is not One Acre Fund’s fault. I know that if it would have rained, we would have gotten a good harvest.”
Getting Our Boots Wet
Our team in Rwanda took putting “Farmers First” to a whole new level in 2016 by executing One Acre Fund’s first-ever aquatic delivery. About 220 clients on Nkombo Island, which sits in Lake Kivu, received deliveries of fertilizer and solar lights by boat in September.
Building Up Support
It was also a big year for our thought leadership work. In 2016, One Acre Fund became one of the founding members of Propagate, a coalition of organizations working to increase the quality and availability of finance to smallholders. We published a report with the Brookings Institution that analyzed recent U.S. food security and agriculture programs under Feed the Future and made actionable recommendations for increasing the impact of future U.S. food security and agriculture programs. And our co-founder Andrew Youn delivered a TED Talk that emphasized smallholders as the key to eradicating hunger and extreme poverty.