VFF Plants the Seeds of Progress


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The Vicente Ferrer Foundation USA (VFF USA) is thrilled to announce the save-the date for our annual gala, “Recipe for Empowerment” as October 6th, 2017.
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An Indian proverb says, “All of the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today.”
In the rural areas of Anantapur district where we work, we see not just the seeds of change being planted, but the flowers themselves. Beautiful, vibrant flowers bought daily from merchants and street vendors adorn our communities. Jasmine decorates and perfumes the traditional gajra braids of women, and chrysanthemums appear throughout the villages during the festival season. Lilies grace temples and home altars. Marigolds, in high demand with the arrival of the Hindu new year, are abundant. Garlands decorate the busts of gods and gurus. Everyone buys and appreciates flowers in India, wealthy or poor.
For one couple in Anantapur, flowers are their livelihood. Sreenivasulu and Prameelamma belong to a small rural community called Hanimireddypalli. A year ago, they decided to convert their mono-crop peanut farm and dedicate their land to growing diverse flowers. 
"We produce more than 5 kilos of lilies daily, and the amount increases during the monsoons,” Sreenivasulu explains. “We sell them for 40 or even 50 rupees a kilo, so every day we are able to bring home at least 200 rupees.” As a family, they earn approximately $88USD each month. Although that may sound meager for Americans, $88 is more than six times above the poverty line in India. 
"Money has always been tight, but with our new business we can count on regular income. Our two teenagers want to graduate from high school and paying their school fees is possible because of our flower business," Prameelamma says.
Efficient irrigation is key in Hanimireddypalli. In early 2015, VFF installed an irrigation system in partnership with the community. VFF purchased a majority of the supplies and the local farmers contributed financially as well as made many in-kind donations for land, sand, and labor. Hanimireddypalli is the second village where the Foundation has promoted drip irrigation for floriculture projects.
Before the irrigation system came into place, Prameelamma and Sreenivasulu struggled to water their four acres of land with their wells. Today, they have no problems growing lilies on one acre, while keeping the other three acres to grow their own food —  all with the same wells.
"Many neighbors visit us because they are interested in starting similar projects," Prameelamma says with satisfaction.