In the Nuru International Agriculture Program, I often find myself planning and anticipating what’s to come: the next few years, the next season, the next activity in the field, or the next month’s outlook for rain.

Nuru International’s Agriculture Program is growing, with a robust program under Nuru Kenya and a nascent program under Nuru Ethiopia. In Nuru Kenya, the Agriculture Program is serving thousands of new and returning farmers with training, extension, and loans for maize (corn) farming in an expanded area of operations for 2013 long rains season. In Ethiopia, the Agriculture Program Model will be co-created between Nuru International and Nuru Ethiopia staff through a pilot process of designing impact programs. The role of the Nuru International Agriculture Program staff is to train, facilitate and work closely with Nuru Kenya and Nuru Ethiopia staff during all phases of program development and implementation until local staff is fully able to implement the program on their own over time.

Nuru Kenya’s Agriculture Program had a highly successful 2012 long rains season, with 2,783 farmers more than doubling their maize yields (123% increase) over baseline. Repayment on the loan product of basic farm inputs (fertilizer and maize seed) reached 96.8% by the end of 2012. This success generated momentum in terms of the impact, scalability and sustainability of field operations, activities which never really come to a halt. As the long rains start up again around January, input loans are being distributed to farmers by Nuru Kenya Agriculture staff. Farms are being paced, prepared, planted, fertilized, weeded, and otherwise tended to by thousands of returning and new farmers in Kuria West. As the Nuru Kenya Agriculture Program continues to grow in the Kuria West District of Kenya, the challenge is to help produce high yields for Nuru Kenya’s farmers, to reach new beneficiaries in surrounding areas, and to sustain operations with high loan repayment and continuous development of local leadership.

Nuru Ethiopia’s Agriculture Program is beginning in 2013 where Nuru International will be working to co-create the Agriculture Program Model in Boreda, Ethiopia in conjunction with Nuru Ethiopia staff. Through the process of co-creation, Nuru International and Nuru Ethiopia staff will address the core need of hunger. From this broad mandate, and through months of trainings, exercises, and analyses, the staff will work to elaborate the Agriculture Program Model for its subsequent implementation in Ethiopia. This pilot process of designing a program model will inform how Nuru International and Nuru Ethiopia work together even further down the road to address needs beyond hunger, including economic shocks, needless disease and death, and access to education.

The challenge of addressing the need of hunger amidst extreme poverty requires a multifaceted approach focused on impact, sustainability and scalability. Nuru International’s Agriculture Program will work in 2013 to innovate past challenges of working with remote rural communities in Kenya and Ethiopia. In Kenya, the staff there will be focusing on making a sustained and scalable impact under increasingly local-based leadership. In Ethiopia, the Agriculture Program will be the first of Nuru Ethiopia’s program models to be co-created through the novel process that Nuru International is implementing hand-in-hand with Nuru Ethiopia staff. Together, these manifestations of the Agriculture Program are focused on meeting the need of hunger and helping communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty.