Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Niger. They also have devastating consequences on children’s growth and the country’s development as a whole because of the long-term impact on the health and productivity of its population. Home gardens have huge potential to improve household food security and alleviate micronutrient deficiencies by increasing the availability of food throughout the year and reducing the budget spent on food—especially among the most vulnerable households.
To effectively contribute to food security for these households, NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Enhanced Resilience (REGIS-ER) project supports the creation and improvement of home gardens. These gardens enable women to grow crops near their home throughout the year, following two locally adapted crop combinations.
During the cold, dry season produce like tomatoes, cabbage, carrots and moringa (a nutrient-dense fast-growing superfood) are grown. During the hot, dry season and rainy seasons crops like okra, papaya and orange-flesh sweet potato thrive. Crop rotation in these gardens during different seasons not only provides a consistent source of nutrient-dense foods for the household, but also helps keep the soil healthy.
Fadimata was the first person in her village of Tigoderet to plant a home garden back in April 2015. Already a leader in her village—she heads up several women’s groups including a credit and savings group and a mother-to-mother group where women learn about breastfeeding and child nutrition—planting a garden came naturally.
“I didn’t know that behind the hut we could make a garden that would provide food for our children, our whole family and provide for other needs,” Fadimata said.
From her garden, Fadimata sold five bags of dried moringa. With the proceeds, she bought a young goat, fattened him up and was able to sell him again for a profit. With the remaining money, she continued to strengthen her secco mats business.
Fadimata also sells leaves from the malian kinkeliba plant she grows in her home garden for herbal tea. Popular with the surrounding villages, she is able to sell the tea leaves every day. Her customers always return, she said, because she is consistent and can sell these products year around.
Most of all, with the revenue, Fadimata said she can provide for the daily needs of her children and contribute to her family expenses.
“I feel respected for that by my husband because I don’t bother him anymore with everyday financial requests,” she said. Her husband, who is the village chief, is even helping her with the construction and maintenance of the garden fence.
Armed with her leadership experience and her entrepreneurial spirit, Fadimata has been able to make a profit from her home garden beyond the extra food and nutrient for her own family. Her garden supports her family, but continues to provide healthy and nutritious produce for her village and the surrounding area.