South Dakota Company Helps Farmers In Africa

In four years, 77,000 African farmers have seen an increase in their crop yields

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – What started as a mission trip has turned into an overseas partnership. Two non-profits, one in Sioux Falls and one in Africa, are working together to help Kenyan farmers become more proficient. The growth is being seen beyond the crops.

With advanced technology, like drones and GPS, it’s no secret that South Dakota farmers are proficient. But that’s not the case everywhere.

“The fields were really sparse, you could tell that they got low yields,” says Co-Founder of Seeds of Change, Miranda Broin. “Even the ears of corn were about half of the size, or a third of the size, that we see today.”

After visiting eastern Kenya to help build a school, the Broin family who owns the bio-fuel company POET, noticed the farmlands weren’t what they were used to.

“You could just tell there was something to be done,” says Broin.

And they weren’t the only ones to notice this.

“Rainfall is becoming lower and more unreliable,” explains Managing Director for Farm Input Promotions Africa, Paul Seward. “We have two rainy seasons a year, but farmers in general are not able to produce enough for their family’s needs.”

Farm Input Promotions Africa is a nonprofit geared toward helping the small-land farmers. But they need funding to do so. So POET created the non-profit Seeds of Change, providing that money.

“We’ve taught them how to dig a little bit deeper and how to space their seed the correct way,” explains Seward.

Seward says before, the African farmers were “using a hoe or a plow, but they were not digging very deeply so that when it rains, the water doesn’t get into the soil, it runs off the soil.”

Seward says they also introduced the farmers to early maturing corn varieties to help with the dry land.

“They can mature 80 days after planting,” he says.

This began 4 years ago. Since then 77,000 farmers have seen a significant increase in their crop yields, going from just 5 bushels of corn per acre to 60.

“It’s crazy because you drive through Kenya [now] and you can see crops that are comparable to American crops,” says Broin.

This is not only allowing these farmers to provide for their families, but to actually make a profit off of what they grow.

“It affects the children in the family, which will in turn affect their future,” says Broin. “If they can go to school, get an education, do well in school and be healthy.”

The two non-profits are not done yet. There are 4 million small-land farmers in Africa that need the assistance. Seeds of Change will be providing money to FIPS Africa for the next two years.

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