The Environmental Defenders ran a one-day awareness and community sensitization activity on Thursday, the 30th of 2023. The goal of the activity was to educate and sensitize the smallholder farmers of Anguza in Wagungu Chiefdom, Mahagi territory of Ituri Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This was done as part of an education initiative run by Environmental Defenders in order to sensitize and educate smallholder farmers about the food security and agroecological practices that are needed in the area.
An awareness-raising exercise was attended by over 50 members of Mar Giri, also known as the “Love Yourself group,” which is a farmers’ organization in Anguza that works in conjunction with Environmental Defenders.
The members of the group expressed their gratitude for the session and asked environmental Defenders to continue with such educational activities, particularly now that it has started to rain once more and a significant number of people have already returned to their gardens to tend to crops for the new growing season.
They also expressed concern regarding the lack of genuine seeds and plants that could be used for planting. They stated that the majority of the cassava plants that they are currently utilizing come from Uganda and that these varieties typically have shorter lifespans. This implies that after being planted for one season, the harvest would decline in the following season to the point where the crops wouldn’t be able to withstand the weather conditions, which would lead to hunger.
The threat of going hungry is very real in Anguza, and it affects many different households throughout the neighborhood. This situation is caused by a number of things, including the fact that most people can’t buy the food they need from the market, people aren’t willing to eat foods from other cultures, and people don’t know how good their food is. In this light, Environmental Defenders and Radio Terra FM are working to implement activities that aim at promoting livelihood promotion in order to enable smallholder farmers in this region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to increase their production for both internal consumption and sale on the market through community-based seed, planting material, and breed multiplication.
Environmental Defenders is implementing a fresh approach in the form of this new strategy in the hopes of bettering the situation in this neighborhood. It is important to note that this is not the first time that this approach has been used. Long ago, the elders and ancestors of this community of Anguza bred and stored seeds in granaries. Although these practices have disappeared, Environmental Defenders is now reviving them in order to prevent food insecurity.
In Anguza, many households are dealing with problems caused by low and declining agricultural outputs, both in terms of food stores and cash. There are a lot of food losses after harvesting, and the supply of different foods isn’t always stable. They are at risk of going hungry as a result of this circumstance. As an illustration, the leaders of the organization that the Environmental Defenders visited on Thursday reported that their group had lost 5 members in the year 2022 alone. Deaths caused by starvation and hardships have become increasingly prevalent in the community.
Environmental Defenders agree that subsistence farmers and their families should always have the choice to grow or buy food. Smallholder farmers and their families should buy more food from the market because their production is only a tiny portion of their food needs. However, many rural communities lack adequate financial resources. Thus, any intervention must boost production and farm, non-farm, and off-farm income so that households can buy food from the market even for items they cannot produce locally. This approach requires using local resources to make market-friendly products. For this reason, Environmental Defenders will continue to help smallholder farmers improve their agricultural output with skills and extension services.