Distance from major town: 15 kilometers from Foya
Chairman: John Saafallah
Chairwoman: Kumba Fayia
Year group established: 2007
Tools distributed: Fifty each of cutlasses, hoes, shovels, diggers, axes, sickle knifes, wheelbarrows, rakes, and rain boots (25 pairs)
Seed distributed: 200kg of ROK-3 variety
Chasenin Town, approximately 15 kilometers from Foya City, is home to 72 members of the Kissi ethnic group. In such a diminutive village, the entire community benefits from the Food for Progress Program funded through the US Department of Agriculture. Chasenin has been overlooked by other NGOs and lacks much of the basic infrastructure of other larger villages. The children in the village walk 90 minutes to the nearest school, water is a 20 minute walk from town and the nearest clinic is a 40 minute drive. Due to its relative isolation and its distance from many basic necessities, the community of Chasenin envisions their farming club as a source for potential development in their village.
The Chasenin Farming Club is comprised of all the able bodied adults in the community. This makes it unique among the villages served by the Food for Progress Program because the farming group gets the full support of the community and its leadership. The town chief often attends meetings and is frequently involved in conflict resolution efforts. Farming Group Chairman John Saafallah, dreams for “Chasenin to be big, more than this. I have a big plan in my mind. We need a school, a hospital, drinking water and toilets. I want this to be a big town.”
The Chasenin Farming Club has many plans for its community but faces many hardships. Previous farming efforts were obstructed by incorrigible pest infestations, especially birds, which invaded rice fields and destroyed the grain. The District Development Committee (DDC) Chairman for Foya District sympathizes, saying, “if you don’t protect crops from the birds, they can eat almost everything.” To address this issue Africa Development Corps partnered with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to provide pest management inputs such as flash tape, liquid fertilizer, and zinc for protecting stored grain from rats. Additionally, the storage bin has helped to alleviate the pest infestation. Before ADC constructed the storage bin Chairman Saafallah laments, “we kept harvested grain in a place that was not fine, most often in the rafters of homes in the community” which provided no protection from vermin or inclement weather.
The objective of the Food for Progress Program is to empower communities to better themselves and to halt dependency on external organizations. Through the inputs from the FFP program, Chasenin has access to post harvest equipment and tools which help to enable their transition from subsistence farming to commercial farming. The DDC Chairman for Foya District, Daniel Blahmeh stressed this opportunity by saying to Chasenin, “if you care for [the rice mill] and let surrounding communities use it, it will give you the power to provide what you are lacking for Chasenin.” An important aspect of maintaining the rice mill is managing usage, servicing and repairs, and supplying fuel for the machine. The Chasenin Farming Club allows other communities to use the machine for a small fee; in turn these funds are utilized toward repairs and fuel purchase.
The initial phase of the Food for Progress Program began with technical modern and traditional agronomics training during which ADC agricultural technicians collaborated with the group to rehabilitate 25 acres of swamp land and ensure proper implementation of the various modern agronomic methods, including twenty steps to appropriately develop the fields, plant and harvest. During this initial phase, the Chasenin Farming Club were diligent and well organized, leading to their selection as beneficiaries of post harvest equipment, including a rice mill, drying slab, rice thresher and storage bin. This equipment amalgamated with tools assisted Chasenin to reduce labor and increase production. Reduction of labor is a huge advantage to a town the size of Chasenin, allowing its farmers to increase efficiency despite their finite number. Chasenin is proud of their hard work and their success so far, despite their relatively small size. As ADC Agriculture Coordinator, Gohnsayzay Akoi remarked, “Chasenin shows that even small towns can compete with large towns.”
Organizing the farming group and division of labor is a doubled headed sword for Chesinin. Choosing the group members was a matter of ensuring every adult in the town was willing and able to be a part of the Chasenin Farming Club. Dividing the work is more difficult because each member has his or her own farm and limited time to devote to the ADC farm. However, the tools provided by the USDA have alleviated the double task and provided equipment critical to sustainability livelihood. Chasenin’s future is bright with potential now that its farmers are working together and better equipped to cultivate their swamp rice farm.