Abdoulkarim Hamidi is 26 years old, married and lives in Siri Ziroudani, on the island of Mohéli, Comoros. He is an exemplary young person who represents part of the success of the India, Brazil and South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund) pilot project in Comoros, a $1.8 million initiative that aims to improve local livelihoods and food security through enhanced agricultural practices. Like other young people in Africa and Comoros, Abdoulkarim dropped out of school at a very young age and decided to become a farmer to be able to provide for his family.
“Being a farmer in Moheli is not easy as we lack basic material such as hand tools or anti-slug remedies. In addition to this weak equipment, our rivers are drying, and water is an issue for farmers on our small island,” he says.
Since 2018, a pilot project is being implemented by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), a premier science institution in South Africa, in collaboration with the Comoros government and UNDP Comoros to support smallholder farmers like Abdoulkarim.
Abdoulkarim did not hesitate to show his interest in participating in the activities of the CRDE (Rural Centre for Economic Development), a Centre that supports rural communities’ growth and poverty reduction initiatives through the improvement of agricultural practices, trainings, equipment, networking, including awareness campaigns about irrigation infrastructure.
“We have always lived and worked around the center (CRDE), but we did not know that such projects could be implemented here next to where our homes to share with us new agricultural practices”, he says.
Abdulkarim’s interest in the IBSA project and his desire to learn and share his knowledge led him to fully commit to the project and he has become a Leader Farmer in his community. The IBSA-funded project provided him with the tools and knowledge that contributed to improve his quality of life as a farmer.
Young and ambitious, Abdoulkarim benefited from the mechanisation training provided by experts from the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). He is now the main tractor operator for the project and the CRDE, and the only tractor driver operating throughout the Djando region to date.
Abdoulkarim has become a strong advocate for the project: “Before becoming involved in this project, it was very hard to plan for my future. Today, thanks to my involvement in the project, I have a steady income, acquired technical knowledge and strengthened the knowledge I had. I even have a diploma! But above all, I regained a sense of pride in farming that I will share with my son.
I now have the opportunity to put the knowledge into practice and the experience acquired as a tractor operator throughout the project will allow me to lead a peaceful life and take care of my family” he says.
This project aims to enhance and improve the production conditions and commercialization of agricultural products on the island of Mohéli. It consists of three phases: (a) topographic, soil and water surveys; (b) irrigation infrastructure and training; and (c) vegetable production.
A pilot organic farming school serves as a learning centre for demonstrating commercial farming practices to local smallholder farmers. Moreover, this project promotes South-South knowledge-sharing on agricultural extension services between the South African Agricultural Research Council and the Government of the Comoros.
The project aims to partner with 1,140 farmers from eight villages on Mohéli, of whom 50 per cent are women and 10 per cent are youth. Training and demonstrations will also take place on the islands of Ngazidja and Anjouan.
“In this IBSA funded project, the ARC-UNDP-Comoros Government partnership is an extraordinary example for South-South cooperation initiatives for the benefit of Southern countries within the United Nations system. The ARC made available its skills, experience to address knowledge gaps and enhance the agricultural capacity in the Union of Comoros”, says George Chirima, Research Team Manager, ARC.
“The UNDP-Comoros has always supported young people like Abdoulkarim whose involvement and success symbolises the impact the south-south initiative between Government of Comoros, UNDP and IBSA Fund project has among the smallholders and their communities in Comoros. South countries face or have faced comparable challenges and this project has the potential to create and strengthen new solutions, notably in agriculture”, says Titus Osundina, UNDP-Comoros Deputy Resident Representative.
The India, Brazil and South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund) is a pioneering initiative to implement South-South cooperation for the benefit of other Southern countries in partnership with the United Nations system. Its purpose is to identify replicable and scalable projects that can be disseminated to interested developing countries as examples of best practices in the fight against poverty and hunger. The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation is the Fund Manager for this initiative.