5 Reasons Drip Irrigation Is a Big Win for Small-Scale Farmers

Smallholder farmers across the globe, from the dry plains of East Africa to the coastal mountains of Central America, are disproportionately affected by climate change. Droughts, floods, pests, and diseases are impacting crop production and food security around the world. For the millions of people who rely on the slim margins of small-scale farming for their livelihood, the burden of climate change can seem insurmountable. Smallholder farmers who adopt climate-smart solutions, such as drip irrigation, become more resilient, self-sufficient, and independent. Here are 5 ways drip irrigation makes a big difference for small-scale farmers: 1. Saves time When rainfall is insufficient, many smallholder farmers resort to watering each crop by hand. Drip irrigation allows crops to be watered simultaneously across a large area simply by turning a valve. Liquid fertilizer can be mixed into the water source and distributed through the drip system directly to the roots of each plant. Drip irrigation ensures that water and fertilizer are delivered evenly to every plant, and gives the farmer time to focus on other activities while the crops are watered. 2. Conserves water Drip irrigation is one of the most efficient ways to deliver water to crops. Water drips slowly directly at the base of the plant, allowing each drop of water to be absorbed by the roots. This prevents run-off and evaporation, and ensures that every drop of water is used by the plants. With drip irrigation, water is only emitted where crops are planted and not between crops, which reduces weed growth. 3. Extends the growing season Most small-scale farmers are dependent on rain-fed agriculture and are only able to cultivate crops during the rainy season. Drip irrigation allows farmers to begin cultivation before the [...]

By | January 26th, 2017|General|0 Comments

Big challenges, big dreams: Learning from Kenyan students

As I enter into the dim-lit classroom at Njengu Primary School, the students faces light up – big smiles and shy chuckles fill the room. I look around at the dirt floors, the thin wooden benches that serve as desks, the faded lessons scribbled on the chalkboard, and the lone, cherished piece of chalk whittled down to only a sliver. I think of all the classrooms I spent my childhood in – brightly lit with decorative holiday-themed banners hanging from the walls, whiteboards covered in every color of dry-erase marker, computers and projectors humming with an endless supply of power, individual desks filled with textbooks, crayons, rulers, scissors, glue – all the necessities for learning, creating, expressing, engaging, growing. Here in Kenya, the humble chalkboard and rickety benches serve as a stark reminder of the challenges these students face – both inside and outside the classroom. Many students at Njengu Primary have to walk long distances to get to school, often on an empty stomach. Unlike most schools in the United States, there is no cafeteria, kitchen facility, or school meal program to feed students throughout the day. Hunger is an unavoidable part of learning. Most of the girls at the school wake up before sunrise to fetch water and firewood. After school, the students help feed cattle, harvest crops in the field, cook, clean, and wash their school uniforms. There is no soccer practice, no dance class, no hide and seek, no Nickelodeon. But these students are just as hopeful for the future, and dream just as big as other children all over the world. When I ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the students answer with optimism and [...]

By | November 11th, 2016|General|0 Comments

Farm to table in the Masai Mara

When you think of fresh produce, do you picture a grocery store or a garden? We visited the Angama Mara Camp in southwest Kenya, situated atop the Oloololo escarpment looking out over the vast plains of the Masai Mara. Here, where elephants, giraffe, buffalo, and zebra roam freely, there are no grocery stores, no refrigerated aisles stocked with assorted produce. The only source of vegetables to feed the guests at the lodge is the nearby garden, or ‘shamba,’ located a kilometer away down a dirt road. After visiting the shamba, we had gained a new appreciation for our lunch salad, a hearty mix of lettuce, spinach, beetroots, carrots, and radish, as well as a new perspective on what it means to be “farm to table.” Wiki, one of the hosts at Angama Mara, and Naliki, the shamba manager, took us on a tour of the garden, and taught us about the many techniques they have incorporated to ensure a consistent supply of vegetables for the lodge. Water remains the number one challenge in this semi arid region of east Africa. Naliki wakes early each morning to water the garden before the hot sun rises, and stays until late in the afternoon to water again. He carefully covers the base of each plant with mulch to help retain the moisture and reduce evaporation. He has constructed an intricate maze of berms and terraces, designed to prevent erosion and control the flow of water to each crop. He has also built two water storage dams to collect and store water during the occasional rains. Outside the fence that surrounds the garden is a string of cowbells to warn of encroaching elephants and other large animals. Inside is [...]

By | September 20th, 2016|General|0 Comments

Seeds that feed us: A visit to the ECHO Asia Seed Bank

Do you ever consider the complete lifecycle of the fruits and vegetables you eat? Each one started as a tiny seed that was nurtured and cultivated before transforming into a plant and eventually making its way to your plate. Those tiny seeds are the origin of our food, the foundation of our sustenance. Often times we forget the importance of seeds, and many people are unaware of what it takes to ensure a continuous supply of this precious resource. For smallholder farmers, acquiring the seeds needed to sustain a healthy, diversified diet can be a challenge. Subsistence farmers who have little or no income are unable to go to a local store and purchase a variety of seeds for their garden. Knowing how to harvest and properly store seeds is an important skill that can help them achieve better nutrition and improve their food security. We visited the ECHO Asia Impact Center ( in northern Thailand to learn how this organization is proactively addressing seed availability for smallholder farmers in the region. We met with Wah, the Seed Bank Manager, who demonstrated all of the steps involved in ECHO Asia’s seed distribution model. Each and every seed is cultivated, harvested, sorted, dried, packaged, stored, tested, and finally, distributed to farmers. The entire process can take several months, and requires a hands-on approach that can be labor intensive and tedious at different stages. Next time you bite into an apple or mix up a salad, consider the time, labor, and persistent care that went into producing the seeds that feed us. A big thanks to Wah and the rest of the ECHO Asia team for sharing their work. August 2016 --- ECHO Asia Impact Center [...]

By | September 5th, 2016|General|0 Comments

Small margins in El Salvador’s markets

At the Sunday market in Berlín, El Salvador, the streets are bustling with vendors selling their vegetables. Some have only a basket of goods to sell, while others set up a small table with a variety of crops available for a few cents each. We spoke with both buyers and sellers at the market to learn about how they’re making the most with the little they have. In the rural communities surrounding Berlín, many farmers harvest just enough to feed their families. Those who are fortunate enough to harvest a small surplus often try to sell those crops in the market. Some of these farmers have to walk for hours from their villages to the market in town, just to earn a few dollars. Other vendors purchase fruits and vegetables from a local supplier, and increase the price just enough to make a small profit. If the crops are spoiled, the vendors may lose money on their investments. Earning money at the market is not guaranteed, and when they do make a profit, it is usually at very slim margins. Since most of the shoppers at the market are poor, even a slight change in the price of goods can have an enormous impact on their buying power. Many have only a few dollars to spend on the basic necessities – food for their families – with very little left over for other purchases. Our visit to the Sunday market in Berlín showed just how vulnerable people are – vendors and shoppers alike – when they have so little. July 2016 --- Berlín, Usulután, El Salvador

By | August 5th, 2016|General|0 Comments

Where do you get your water?

What do you do when you're thirsty? Open a bottle of water? Turn on the tap and fill your glass? One in ten people around the world do not have that privilege. For the 783 million who lack access to safe and clean drinking water, quenching thirst is a daily struggle. Yet, the implications of water scarcity go far beyond thirst. Globally, men, women, and children spend hundreds of millions of hours on water collection each day. Instead of earning money, getting an education, and working toward a better future, these people spend much of their productive capacity trying to meet a basic survival need. We visited a rural community in El Salvador to take a walk in their shoes, to gain a better understanding of the challenges these families face, and to witness first-hand the effort that is required just for a sip of water. Imagine walking for 2 hours, across three miles, up and down 2,000 feet of elevation, carrying a 40-pound tank of water, every day. This is their story. July 2016 --- Los Yanez, Usulután, El Salvador

By | August 5th, 2016|General|0 Comments

Tree Planting in Asia – A new partnership in Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan, nestled amongst the giant Himalayas on the border of China and India, is a small and isolated country with a strong commitment to conservation. The protection of forests is embedded in the country’s constitution, ensuring the preservation of at least 60% of forest area at all times. Bhutan also celebrates a national holiday on June 2, “Social Forestry Day,” dedicated to planting trees around the country. On March 6, Bhutan celebrated the one-month birthday of its new Prince by carrying out tree plantations across the country. To mark the auspicious number “108,” the country announced it would plant 108,000 trees. The Rooted In Hope team travelled to Bhutan in early March to complete our last half-marathon of our seven-continent journey to “Run the World, For the World.” Bhutan marked the culmination of our goal to run all seven continents while promoting global awareness of climate change. During our visit to Bhutan, we participated in a tree planting at a high school in Punakha, in which 108 Java Plum trees were planted in celebration of the new Prince. Rooted In Hope also supported the planting of hundreds of fruit-bearing trees across Punakha through a partnership with local stakeholders, including a Member of Parliament and the regional Minister of Forests. The nationwide effort to plant trees and the collective support of the Bhutanese people is a testament to Bhutan’s commitment to the environment. Rooted In Hope is proud to support the country's efforts to preserve its natural resources and empower its people to protect the planet. The Minister of Forests demonstrates how to plant a tree to the students. Rooted In Hope Founder, Cathy Rodgers, plants a tree seeding at Punakha High School. Students at Punakha [...]

By | March 9th, 2016|General|0 Comments

Taking Root in Central America

In the heart of Central America on the Pacific coast is El Salvador, a tiny country full of vibrant color, striking volcanoes, beautiful beaches, and friendly people. Last month, we traveled to the Usulután province in the southern part of the country to help rural communities combat the challenges of climate change. Rooted In Hope was invited to visit the town of Berlín and install drip irrigation systems for subsistence farmers in the surrounding villages. We were delighted to work with Katherine Pater of Our Sister Parish, whose mission is to bring hope and social development to the impoverished communities of Berlín. Katherine has lived and worked in El Salvador for nearly three years, supporting projects that help to create a better future for the people of Berlín. Most of the population in the Usulután province relies on small-scale agriculture as a primary source of food and income. Facing increasing drought and shifting climate patterns, many farmers are struggling to maintain their crops and harvest enough to provide for their families. With the introduction of our drip irrigation system, we hope to help these farmers conserve water, increase crop yields, and become more resilient to changes in climate. Our systems can support up to 120 plants and are designed to supply water directly to the roots, allowing for efficient use of land, time, and resources. Since the water flow is controlled by a valve, farmers can utilize the system even during the dry season and times of no rain. With the potential to provide year-round harvests, this small-scale, low-cost technology has the ability to bring greater food security and more income to the families. After successfully installing drip irrigation systems in the communities of Casa [...]

By | December 10th, 2015|General|1 Comment

Quick Guide to the SDGs – Understanding our goals for the future

As the UN moves closer to consensus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is important to understand what each of the 17 goals represent. This new global agenda seeks to achieve food security, gender equality, economic prosperity, and environmental protection across the globe by 2030. A common understanding of the steps that need to be taken by each and every one of us is the only way to achieve real progress. Here’s a quick look at the SDGs: Poverty Alleviation – End poverty in all its forms everywhere Food Security – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture Health & Well-being – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages Education – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all Gender Equality – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls Water & Sanitation – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all Clean Energy – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all Economic Growth – Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all Innovation – Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation Equality – Reduce inequality within and among countries Communities – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable Conservation – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns Climate – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts Oceans – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development Forests – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and [...]

By | August 7th, 2015|General|2 Comments

A growing solution for rural Kenya

Last year we designed, developed, and distributed our first set of small-scale drip irrigation kits to groups across Kenya. Nearly a year later, we continue to receive positive feedback about the benefits that the kits provide. The farmers, women, students, and other groups who participated in our pilot program report that with the drip irrigation systems, they have been able to grow more vegetables, harvest year round, and earn money from their crops. Feedback from the field “We are fine and the drip irrigation kit did function well and the group in Kinunga had a wonderful harvest and are very thankful to Rooted In Hope team.” “We as Baraka family we do appreciate your donation and support. The drips are perfect only that we keep on rotating them due to the space they occupies.” “My drip is also doing well and have really helped during this dry season as the seeds germinated and are healthy enough” “The water is running very well and they are able to conserve the water very well as you will see in the pictures the crops are very green despite the hotness of the sun.” “The kits are working on well and are of great help to the groups, especially the Kinunga women’s group. They have confirmed even selling some of the crops such as spinach, carrots, and beetroots as they did very well and are now in the second harvest.” “This is a great initiative. It is a initiative to materialize. I am looking forward to be part of if. I will marshal Kenyan to be part of Rooted in  Hope vision on empowering Kenyans.”               Photos: Harvesting at Muramati Secondary School (left),  Baraka [...]

By | April 26th, 2015|General|4 Comments