Story Ideas to Help Rural Communities Cope with Labour Shortages and Other Impacts of HIV and AIDS

Crop productionHealthSocial issues


Pit farming as a farmer response to labour shortages

Households affected by HIV and AIDS need strategies to deal with labour shortages. Pit farming is a way for farmers to pool their labour. Although initially labour intensive with a lot of planning and digging involved, this practice will save labour in subsequent seasons. Farmers dig holes, fill them with organic material, and then plant maize seeds in the holes. The method conserves labour, and water, because only minimal cultivation and weeding is necessary.

Build resilience to drought by using appropriate farming methods

Drought increases the vulnerability of a family or a community to HIV/AIDS in many ways; for example, by decreasing crop yields and by reducing the amount of water available for livestock and human consumption. These have negative impacts on diet and health, which makes individuals more vulnerable to infections associated with HIV/AIDS. Many farmers are using traditional and innovative methods to respond to the challenges of farming in dry regions. These include techniques to capture water, increase soil fertility, improve the ability of the soil to hold water, and fight soil erosion.

Establish funeral maize banks

Village communities can establish and maintain funeral maize banks to ensure food security in times of need. Funeral maize banks work as follows. Every year households in the community contribute a certain amount of maize to the maize bank. Those households that have contributed can draw from the maize bank if and when there is a funeral in the family. One of the benefits of this strategy is that it can be easily established by the community, without outside support or assistance. A drawback is that families that don’t have the resources to make annual contributions, usually the poorest families, cannot benefit from the maize bank at times of loss.

Make sure your business idea is sound

Starting a small home business is one way for families affected by HIV and AIDS to increase their income. But before people embark on a new business it’s important that they do an analysis of the income potential of the business idea. This will help determine if the business will be profitable. For example, people need to take into account the costs of production and marketing (inputs, labour, packaging, handling, transportation, fees and commissions) before proceeding with any business.

The importance of agricultural diversification

Agricultural diversification is one of the key strategies to increase food security and mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS. Farmers who plante several crops have more security. If one crop fails, there will be something else to eat or sell. For example, farmers who produce only crops for sale may not have enough nutritious food to feed their families if prices fall or crops fail. A diversity of crops will also help to meet the nutritional needs of people with illnesses. Find ways to explain to farmers how they can benefit from producing a variety of crops.

Grow your own fertilizer

Farmers who find themselves with reduced capital in difficult times can produce their own fertilizer instead of buying it. There are many alternatives to chemical fertilizers: livestock manure, tree leaves that are rich in nutrients, and local plants that can be used as cover crops to add nitrogen to the soil. Farmers need to fully consider the resources they have on hand, and ways of using them to make farming more productive. Many traditional practices make use of on-farm resources.

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