Increasing Cocoa (Chocolate) Yields of Women Growers in Peru (2017-18)
Helping Livestock Survive Drought in Kenya (2013-16)
Streamlining Labor-Intensive Production of Bread (Cassava) in Honduras (2010-13)
Overcoming World Poverty Thru Skills Training and Coaching for Workers
Worldwide, talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. Four billion people live on less than two dollars per day. MBCC, thru its Social Action Board, has been working with TechnoServe since 1978 to help break the cycle of poverty in the developing world. TechnoServe works in the world’s poorest communities where they are able to find talented, smart people and to help these people turn their good ideas and hard work into income and jobs. TechnoServe trains and coaches them and fosters the business connections that their young enterprises need to thrive.
In 2010 MBCC decided to select specific TechnoServe projects that we would fund, and so far we have funded three such projects, one at a time, as listed below:
- Increasing the cocoa (chocolate) harvest yields of women growers in Peru,
- Helping livestock (including dairy cows) survive severe droughts in Kenya, and
- Streamlining the labor-intensive making of cassava bread, a major staple in the local diet, in Honduras.
Each of these projects is explained below. Our current project in Peru will be concluding in late 2018, and we will subsequently choose our next TechnoServe project.
How You Can Help
To see how you can help, click here (link to below).
2017-18 Project: Increasing Cocoa Yields of Women Growers in Peru
In the developing world, many children drop out of school because their parents can no longer afford it. The most effective means of combating this is to increase the family income by upgrading the parent’s job skills (but especially the skills of mothers).
Skills training has already proven highly effective for male cocoa (chocolate) growers in Peru, and now in this MBCC-funded ($15,000) pilot program, the training is being adapted to, and taught to, a class of 100 women cocoa growers. if successful, this pilot program will then be ramped up, with the support of other TechnoServe funders, to train more women.
This training focuses on:
- Increasing crop yields and quality,
- Improving access to export markets, and
- Improving access to finance (micro-loans for fertilizers and materials).
The training phase has now been completed, and TechnoServe’s technicians are visiting the trainee’s fields to determine if these new methods have been successfully implemented. This MBCC-funded pilot program is expected to be completed in late 2018.
2013-16 Project: Helping Livestock Survive Drought in Kenya
Raising livestock, including dairy cattle, has been the main occupation of the Maasai people in Kenya since ancient times. However, the interior of Kenya, where the Maasai have always lived, suffers from draughts, just as the deserts of the American Southwest do. Much of the best (least arid) grazing land was taken away from the Maasai people during the seven-decade (1888-1962) British control of Kenya. The grazing land that remains available for the Maasai livestock often has draughts that can last 3 or 4 months or more. Milk production obviously ceases during these periods, and the dairies close down.
An effective and economic solution proposed by TechnoServe is to teach Maasai men to build earthen dams to collect rainfall runoff during the rainy season and store it for the dry season. In December 2013 MBCC funded ($15,000) a proposed 12-month effort led by TechnoServe. The effort began with an in-depth, 3-week training class that culminated in the trainees building a demonstration dam (for which 6,500 wheelbarrows of dirt were removed). The results of the 1-year project were:
- 38 young Maasai men were trained to build dams and became government certified (a lasting benefit).
- 5 new dams and one large community dam (serving 210 cows) were built; 3 dams were repaired.
- 1,560 farmers and livestock herders were taught the importance of capturing and storing rainwater.
2010-12 Project: Streamlining Laborious Production of Bread in Honduras
Cassava bread, which is a flat, unleaven, tortilla-like wafer, is one of the three food staples that the rural Garifuna people of northern coastal Honduras subsist on. The Garifuna people are a very marginalized and impoverished group who descended from west African slaves brought to the Caribbean region three centuries ago.
Cassava bread is made from a potato-like, starchy, tubular root that was being converted into tortilla-like wafers using a very labor-intensive (mostly female labor) and time-consuming process, usually requiring two days to complete. The resulting cassava bread was not homogeneous or high quality, and was a burden to the weak economy in these Garifuna communities.
In 2010 TechnoServe proposed a project to modernize this cassava production, which MBCC chose to partially fund ($10,000), with matching funds coming from each of the affected Garifuna communities. Specifically, two pieces of equipment would be installed in each of five Garifuna communities:
- a heavy duty press to remove poisonous juices from the cassava roots; and
- a grating/shredding mill to cut/chop the cassava roots down into cassava powder.
The resulting powder could then be formed into wafers by adding water, and cooked into wafers.
This project was completed in all five Garifuna communities by early 2012. As a result, the quality of the cassava bread improved dramatically, the production time and effort dropped significantly, and the labor saved was re-directed into other pursuits. Also, cassava sales increased to surrounding communities and internationally.
How You Can Help
We welcome donations to support MBCC efforts (thru TechnoServe) to help others beyond our borders. Please make your check out to “Manhattan Beach Community Church” and on the memo line (bottom left corner), write “TechnoServe”.
Our current TechnoServe project (Increasing Cocoa Yields in Peru) will be concluding in late 2018. Soon thereafter we will begin a new cycle, in which we:
- Ask TechnoServe to propose three new projects for MBCC to consider funding,
- Invite everyone in our congregation to a meeting where we will select one of the three projects, and
- Begin our fund-raising effort to launch our selected project.
Throughout this three-step process, we encourage your participation, and obviously during the third step, we will be actively seeking donations and support.