Sarah Buchanan was an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in political science when she first traveled to Kenya. During her trip, Buchanan was so moved and inspired by the communities she saw and was so interested in learning more about the region that she made the decision to change her major to International Development upon returning to school. She continued traveling to and exploring different areas in the developing world, where she constantly saw a link between poverty and agriculture. Determined to make a change, it was not long before Buchanan co-founded the non-profit organization Kula Project with the goal of alleviating poverty in developing nations through empowering farmers in the regions.

 

Bobby Neptune/Kula Project

Bobby Neptune/Kula Project

The Kula team begins a project by identifying each farmer’s particular situation, such as recognizing current product, farming methods, and obstacles. Then building on information they gain through this initial assessment, the team works in cooperation with the farmers themselves to develop realistic farming techniques that possess three key factors: they produce a substantially larger harvest for the farmer, they are financially sustainable, and they are environmentally sustainable.

 

The team’s final step is then to ensure that each farmer is equipped with the best resources, knowledge, and connections with informed locals who can contribute to the project in the long-term by providing ongoing support, as well as access to fair trade markets – this last point being something the team looks into before launching any project, as market access and demand are essential to making any development project like this successful.

 

Bobby Neptune/Kula Project

Bobby Neptune/Kula Project

By investing in farmers in developing nations, Kula Project ultimately contributes to farmers’ ability to better support themselves and their families by giving them the ability to buy additional food, pay school fees, and pay for healthcare, according to the organization’s website.

 

The foundation of this project, and the aspect which differentiates it from others in international development, is that it transforms the concept of helping the developing world from one which revolves around giving constant and ongoing aid to one which sees the value in giving knowledge and giving people in developing nations the tools they need to help and support themselves now and in the future.

 

Buchanan, who is preparing for the organization’s October launch of an agricultural project in Rwanda, said in an interview with Global Atlanta:

[Kula Project] wants to implement programs that focus on planting methods, nutrition, and business literacy and eventually hand them off to the farmers so they may continue to teach others. If we are still in Rwanda in 10 years, I’d see that as a failure.

Bobby Neptune/Kula Project

Bobby Neptune/Kula Project

By identifying a prolonged presence in the project’s area of focus as a failure, Buchanan highlights the organization’s commitment to the true essence of international development as it should be – that the only really valuable aid is aid which doesn’t perpetuate a constant dependence on the helper but instead promotes and encourages the growth of independence in the person or group being helped. This is something often missing in the world of international politics, and we can only hope that Kula Project’s effort to bring that back to the table is something which will change the future of development, and the nations in the developing world.

 

For more information on Kula Project, or to read stories about the farmers the organization is helping and to see how you can contribute, visit kulaproject.org.

 

What are your thoughts on what Kula Project is doing in the developing world by investing in farmers? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me @tamarahoumi