Agriculture Spotlight: Meet Philomise
At a very young age, Philomise remembers being involved in agriculture related activities, especially peanut production. As early as 6 years of age, she remembers helping with planting, harvesting, drying and selling peanuts.
After getting married, Philomise was eager to find another activity that would generate more money for the household, as peanut farming was not enough to support her young family. Irrigation issues, lack of rainfall, soil erosion, seed issues and pests were just a few of the common issues that she faced season after season. She finally gave up the agriculture activities to focus on running a small business selling raw meat and other foods on the main road while her husband remained focused on agriculture. “I generated more money to support my family in this small business than in farming,” claimed Philomise. After several years running her business, Philomise felt very comfortable, but never dropped the idea of one day going back to farming.
Philomise was introduced to the MFK farmer training program when a community leader asked her to be part of the 2019 training cohort. It was a hard decision for Philomise because she would need someone to take care of her business activities during the two hours she would be away at the training. She finally convinced her sister to help her during one day of the week so she could attend the training. Philomise attended the training consistently and participated in all activities. “By listening to the agronomist, I realize that I was doing a lot of things wrong with my farming practices,” Philomise explained. “I did not know that I was supposed to dry the peanuts on tarp, I usually dry them on bare ground, and I could not recognize the diseases that limited my productivity,” she added.
After graduating from the MFK training program, Philomise decided to start farming again while keeping her small business alive. Philomise was selected by MFK agronomists to join the Champions program. The objective of this more intensive agricultural program is to provide support to the most vulnerable smallholders’ farmers in the north to improve their livelihoods: strengthening peanut production in the Ouanaminthe areas, providing inputs and trainings to improve peanut yield and quality and buying peanuts from smallholder farmers at a favorable and fixed price.
Through this program, Philomise benefitted from equipment and tools to support her in her efforts, and the MFK agronomist visiting her throughout the season to evaluate progress and provide advice. Philomise planted 12 marmites of peanuts which is roughly 14.4 kg of peanuts and she harvested about 150 marmites (180kg). This is considered to be successful due to farmers in these areas genrally harvesting an average of 50 marmites (60kg) for each 10 marmites (12kg) planted without any consultation or support. Philomise’s peanuts also passed aflatoxin contamination tests and she was able to sell to MFK and use the proceeds to feed her family and send her children to school.
Now that Philomise succeeded on low scale, she wants to keep on the same track and plant more next season to sell to MFK now as a certifier supplier. We applaud Philomise for a job well done and look forward to watching her yields and income continue to increase into the future.