Friday, December 18, 2009

Summary: Seed Storage Facility in Kaymor

Here is a summary I've written to more clearly and concisely explain the seed storage facility I'm raising money for.

[Problem statement]

The current lack of reliable local crop seed storage is severely hampering the livelihood of the farmers in and around Kaymor, a village of about 1,800 in south-central Senegal. They do not have a secure facility in which to store their seed during the dry season; as a result they do not have the same seed market opportunities as farmers in more developed areas. Essentially, these farmers are forced to sell at a low price and buy over-priced and poor quality seed when they have the least spare cash.

Farmers in the region are not able to make profit-maximizing decisions about when to buy and sell peanut, corn, rice, millet, and bean seeds because there is no suitable seed storage. The seeds for these crops are large and take up a lot of space when being stored during the dry season. Most farmers do not have separate, secure buildings or storage units for their seed, so their seed is easily and quickly attacked by animals such as insects or mice. This means farmers must sell their crop soon after they harvest it at the end of the rainy season, when the price for their crop is typically at its lowest point in the year. Making matters worse, farmers are not able to save any seed for the next rainy season and are forced to buy seed when their savings are depleted. Also, they have to get seed from sources that are not necessarily reliable in terms of quality of seed, timeliness, or affordability because there are no other widespread seed sources. These constraints on the farmers’ options severely limit their earning potential and thus perpetuate their poverty and malnutrition.

[Proposed solution]

Therefore, the construction of a seed storage facility for large-grain crops such as peanuts, corn, rice, millet, and beans will lift these constraints from the farmers and allow them to make their own market decisions. At the end of the next growing season the benefits of this facility will – with your help – begin to be realized.

The local community group, called PENC-MI, which includes representatives from more than 20 surrounding villages and is based in Kaymor, is organizing this seed storage facility and will be in charge of managing the facility when it is built and running. The building itself will be a very simple one-level concrete structure, with a metal roof and large plastic storage containers for the seed. There are approximately 500 such buildings (of varying sizes and storage capacities) throughout Senegal, and the contracted builder is experienced at constructing such a facility. Farmers in Kaymor and the 20+ surrounding villages – adding up to over 200 farmers – will be able to store their seed in this clean, safe, secure building during the dry season, ensuring them access to quality seed whenever they want to plant, sell, or eat it. The community is required to contribute 25% of the total funds – 10% of the total must be in cash, and 15% can be in kind, such as labor, transportation, or supplies. The community has already raised the required cash: just over $300, about 170,000 cfa (which is more than 10 times my incredibly comfortable monthly stipend). Once all the cash is raised, the community will also be providing over 426,000 cfa worth of labor, transportation, and supplies. This is a significant contribution – the community is serious about and committed to this building. This building is designed to last decades so even though the building is very simple, low-levels of maintenance will inevitably be required; these costs will be covered by the community (in cash and/or in kind).

This seed storage facility will also act as an educational tool as well as a confidence- and capacity-builder because the farmers will learn how to properly select and store their seed and how to grow and store new crops. In addition, PENC-MI employees will learn certain skills, such as record keeping, contract making, payment practices, how to determine when seed is no longer viable, and how to obtain seed from local sources. Personnel employed by a local NGO experienced in organizing and maintaining such seed storage facilities will be in charge of teaching these farmers and PENC-MI employees.

[Call to action]

Over two-thirds of the funds needed for this project have already been raised – from the community’s contribution and from generous Americans – but we still need $3,158. We are looking for donations of any size so we can begin construction on this facility and have it completed before the rainy season starts in June (since construction is much more difficult during the rainy season). Please consider donating – any amount will help us get started on this facility, which is an investment in the future of more than 200 famers and their families.

[Means for continued communication]

I will continue to keep my blog ( updated throughout the fundraising, building, and implementation stages. I will take pictures as the construction starts, continues, and finishes to provide a visual report on the progress of the project. Though my access to internet is not nearly as reliable or consistent as it is in the States, email is still the fastest and most reliable method of communication with me, so please direct any questions, concerns, or comments to me at:

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