An estimated 821 million people were undernourished in 2017, a majority of which were those in developing countries, the United Nations reports. As the world population continues to grow, stronger efforts are being made to improve food security and to sustain the increasing need for production through agriculture. The international community, including the United Nations, believes that with the next generation it is possible to eradicate hunger.
Agriculture is the largest employer in the world and provides for over 40 percent of today’s global population. It is the largest source of income and employment for those in rural households. 500 million small farms worldwide, most still rain-fed, provide up to 80 percent of food consumed in a large part of the developing world.
Thaakat Foundation supports the United Nations’ global Sustainable Development Goals and believes investing in smallholder men and women is an important way to increase both food security and nutrition for poor communities.
To increase food production and sustainability through agriculture, Thaakat Foundation partnered with the Konadu Basic School in Ghana in 2013. During that time, Clement Boamah was running a small makeshift school with proceeds from his farm projects. Boamah had a vision we helped to create into a reality by building a structure for classrooms. But as site costs grew, we knew we needed a site income.
Seeing that 80 percent of the community’s women were single parents and needed opportunities to grow and prosper, Boamah’s passion for agriculture and farming helped us make the decision to invest in the Ebankese Mushroom Farm.
In 2015, we invested in the Ebankese Mushroom Farm on-site at Konadu Foundation Ghana. We employed single mothers from the community to train and work on the farm and hoped profits would support the school. Unfortunately, the farm succumbed to contamination and slowed production due to issues with suppliers providing the mushroom spawn.
But in 2017, the Siegfried and Marianne Endlichhofer Trust donated $20,000 to invest in the Konadu Basic School, a large portion of this went towards development on the Ebankese farm and helped turn things around.
The Konadu Basic School was then able to purchase an autoclave (mushroom cultivation equipment) and own the spawn development process in 2018. We were no longer reliant on suppliers, which allowed for income to increase. Now, the farm brings in over $1,000 to help cover expenses at the Konadu Basic School. This is enough to cover almost 30 percent of all operating expenses at the school.
In October, our site partner began rebuilding the Ebankese mushroom farm. We even brought in a professor of agriculture to help establish a progress plan for this important venture, earlier this year. The new farm will have individual units for each cropping stage and cement flooring to help reduce the loss of crops due to contamination. The nonporous floor and roof will keep out moisture, preventing contamination.
We are fortunate to have received a $10,000 grant earlier this year from the Siegfried and Marianne Endlichhofer Trust to invest back into the farm and in the school. Today, farm improvements have driven up the product by more than ten times compared to last year.
School food also protects our most vulnerable children against hunger. Children in poverty rely on school meals for more than half of their daily nutrients and calories so these meals need to be of the highest nutritional quality. Through these efforts, we hope to help end world hunger and increase sustainability and food security in the community.