Meet Kija Katemana
Kija Katemana hadn’t ever owned much. The 36-year-old single mother of four rented both her house and a small plot of land in rural Tanzania. The little income she earned from farming and selling baked samosas in town went entirely toward food and trying to pay her children’s school fees. She always felt as if she didn’t have much to show for her years of hard work.
Each year, Kija hoped to harvest enough maize to do more than pay the rent on her land again the following year. However, her three-acre farm plot rarely produced more than 10 sacks of maize – not enough to feed her family or generate extra money to change her status quo.
“Life was a real challenge then,” Kija says. “Sometimes we’d go the night without a meal. There were even times when I would have a little money from work that day, but I couldn’t find food to buy.”
Training for Success
In late 2013, Kija learned One Acre Fund was operating in her village. She heard they would provide agricultural training to help farmers improve their yields. So, she took a gamble and enrolled.
“I had only ever used local seed, and I had no idea how to space anything when I planted,” Kija says. “I sometimes would use a little fertilizer as well, but I didn’t know how much was correct to use.”
It turned out that One Acre Fund’s training would be the key she had been missing to improving her yields. When harvest time rolled around in 2014, she produced 20 sacks of maize from one acre of land. Kija was in disbelief.
Since then, she’s continued to plant with One Acre Fund year after year, and slowly she has started to alter her finances.
“My family can eat as many times a day as we like now,” Kija says. “My kids now are joyful knowing they’ll always come home to a meal. Before One Acre Fund, meat at our house was unheard of, but now we can have it any time we want.”
Preparing for the Future
Not only has Kija been able to provide food for her family year-round, but she’s also made investments. In 2014, she sold a portion of her harvest and bought her own quarter acre of farm land. The next year, she built her own house. Between the two purchases, she’s now saving roughly $12 each month that she used to spend on rent.
“With that money, I’ve now been able to take all four of my children to school,” Kija says.
She also has grown her samosa-baking operation. She produces roughly double what she could before because she can afford to buy more ingredients upfront.
“Before I thought my life would be one of hardship, but thanks to One Acre Fund, I feel free of that life now,” Kija says. “I feel very confident that I am able to take care of my children, unlike before. The future I see ahead is now bright.”