Many people in the United States have never heard the term “subsistence farming,” yet for many families in the remote villages of the Himalayas eking out a living from the small patch of land you own is the only way to survive. This form of agriculture often leaves the poor without any way to grow their income to provide for their families in a changing, demanding world. However, this lack of resources also means that a little opportunity can go a long distance in the way of change.
Jamuna (pictured right) and her family took the opportunity ServLife’s micro lending program offered and ran with it. Prior to the loan they had just been cultivating their small amount of land to support the four generations of family that lived there, Jamuna explains. “Before the loan we didn’t have any income because there was nothing here,” she shares, “no resources in the village. Then I got a $200 loan and I used it to buy two pigs. The pigs had piglets and by selling those piglets we were able to expand the farm and pay for many supplies we needed.”
“With the income from the first 14 piglets we bought goats and cows and an ox. We’ve also been able to buy everything we needed for our home,” Jamuna shares. “We weren’t growing rice in our field so we got rice to sow as well as all the daily supplies for our home. The piglets covered all our expenses, even the fees to send my children to school for the first time. That’s what’s been really different since the loan.”
The piglets opened up a new world of possibilities to Jamuna’s family. The piglets serve as liquid assets that allow the family to have an income year round. “After getting a loan from ServLife,” Jamuna says, “we still have eleven piglets and we can sell them any time to get money easily.”
Because of a small investment Jamuna and her family have gone far beyond subsistence farming and become small business owners. They dream of ever expanding ways to grow their business, when only a year ago they had no means to generate income. “We are planning to sell all eleven baby pigs we have now,” Jamuna explains, “and then we want to buy a little bit higher quality of pigs and extend the pen so we can breed more in the future… This is a wonderful program for our village. We are very thankful for the people who are helping us here and sending help from the US. You are really directly helping our families.”