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How seeds help children in Laos

Farming in the Laos’ remote mountainous villages is extremely challenging.

Many families, particularly in the mountainous north, struggle to work small plots of land, relying on the production of cash crops like corn as a source of income.

Only one third of farmers grow additional crops. Many don’t cultivate enough to get them through to the next harvest, and struggle to adequately feed their children.

The lean season, which lasts from June to October, is particularly tough.

Heavy rains or an insect or rodent infestation can leave families with little food, no seeds, and no cash.

According to the UN World Food Programme, an estimated 30% of the population has insufficient food for more than six months of the year.

ChildFund supporters have been helping by giving seeds to parents like Mon, who struggled to provide enough food for her three daughters; Pom, 18, Peng, 15, Vongphet, 10, and her 13-year-old son, Pheangvanh.

 

Pheangvanh, 13, has a healthy diet thanks to ChildFund supporters who gave seeds

“Since I got these seeds I feel like I have a refrigerator behind the house,” Mon says.

“When I want to cook I just get the vegetables from the garden.”

Access to food helps alleviate one of the biggest threats to children in Laos – malnutrition.

In some of the rural communities where ChildFund works over half of all children are chronically malnourished and over a third are underweight.

Every year more than 6,000 children in Laos die due to illnesses related to malnutrition.

ChildFund’s comprehensive nutrition projects are addressing this problem in some of the country’s most disadvantaged communities.

Field staff work with local communities to undertake nutrition checks to identify malnourished children whose parents are invited to form support groups, which receiving agriculture training and seeds.

Mon, who received seeds from ChildFund in 2014, is an example of the difference these seeds can make.

She used her seeds and training to develop a small vegetable business that helps support her children’s education.

“Since I started growing vegetables, I haven’t had to go to the market for vegetables,” Mon says.

“I can easily get them from my garden. Sometimes, I can even sell vegetables at the market so I can save money for other things, like buying school equipment and clothes for my children.

“If I have a chance, I want to get more different kinds of seeds and learn about the techniques to grow them because I want to start a small agriculture business for my family.

“Thanks to everyone who sent seeds to our village.”

Seeds allow families in Laos to grow backyard gardens that feed children and help families set themselves up for the future.

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