Posts in World Renew

No Stopping Now: Conservation Ag Reaps Returns

Robert, Mariam, and Pastor Silver are just three of the farmers in FRB’s Uganda-Kabale program who are reaping the benefits of their Conservation Agriculture (CA) training. Their increased yields are astonishing to themselves and their neighbors alike.

Robert, 40, is married with three children and farms on one acre of land. He says, “Before CA, I used to experience challenges like poor yields, insects, and many diseases. I almost gave up planting fruit. After two years of minimum tillage, I’m seeing a great reduction in these problems. Now I can harvest at least 50 kilos (110 pounds) of fruit and 50 of tomatoes each week. And my labor costs have gone down since I no longer till. My land is never idle. I’ve planted gooseberries so that, when the tomatoes begin to die out, I can begin harvesting the berries. I cannot stop this type of farming now.”

Mariam is single and farms on her parents’ land. “I’ve tried mulching and minimum tillage on my garden plot. I’ve planted beans and, even though I have not harvested yet, they look better than my neighbor’s beans which were planted at the same time. People believe in me. I have taught CA to my mother and she, too, has started mulching her garden where she has planted cabbages.”

Pastor Silver, a longtime farmer, is 45 and married with five children. “I had left my land idle and contemplated moving because the soil was depleted. But after CA, I’m harvesting 800 kilos (1,764 pounds) of Irish potatoes where I could barely get 70 (155 pounds) before.” His family members now help him by cutting and carrying grass for mulching. His results have been so good, he says, that he can hire additional labor. “Even if the program withdraws its assistance I will not stop mulching.”

Uganda Kabale encompasses 25 communities, 1,021 households and 6,126 individuals

04/07/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Workshops, Family and Friendships Improve Self Sufficiency

Alva was born and raised in the southwestern Guatemalan department of Jutiapa, but soon felt that the land there was not as suitable for growing crops as in other areas. She eventually moved her family to the department of Petén in the north where she purchased a small plot of fertile land.

There, one of her neighbors invited her to attend agricultural training led by FRB’s local partner APIDEC in its Guatemala Four Departments program. Although Alva was afraid at first that others wouldn’t let her join the program, they quickly accepted her. She eventually began to form new relationships, regularly attending workshops and learning alongside the other participants.

After a few years of living in Petén, her son married a woman named Sheyla who was from his mother’s hometown in Jutiapa. Sheyla was heartily welcomed by Alva and their new community. The two women now work their gardens side-by-side.

Both Alva and Sheyla say they’ve been encouraged by their friendship and how it has strengthened the bond between their families. The women have learned many new cultivation techniques, such as how to diversify their crops, make organic insecticides, construct their own seedbeds, and graft plants. The families are growing many varieties of crops on their plots and are now able to sell their produce. Their economic well-being has improved as a result of training and practice, and they saved enough money to start a fish hatchery, further diversifying their families’ diets. Alva and Sheyla have begun to teach their children how to grow food, and many people from their community come to see how they plant and grow produce on such a small plot of land.

Alva feels blessed to have been a part of APIDEC’s training and now teaches others in her community what she has learned.

Guatemala-Four Departments encompasses 25 communities, 750 households, and 4,500 individuals

04/07/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

A Small Business Started in Martha's Garden

My name is Martha Elena. I’ve always enjoyed having plants in my yard, and used to try to grow vegetables but without much success; they would wilt and not produce. I figured my soil wasn’t any good, or I just didn’t have a “green thumb.” I also got very discouraged when the animals would eat all my plants.

Then, a year ago, I participated in a workshop with ACJ about how to grow a vegetable garden. They showed us pictures of how folks like me had done it in other communities where they work. I agreed to give it another try, so the technical staff showed me how to prepare the earth for planting and how to use recycled materials like plastic bottles and other containers to plant in.

We constructed raised beds, out of the way of the animals. I was worried about how I would get enough water for my plants, but the ACJ staff assured me that they wouldn’t need as much in the containers. It was very satisfying for me to find that I could harvest lots of vegetables like onions, cucumber, beets, peppers and tomato after all. What’s more, our family can enjoy eating all our fresh produce knowing we aren’t consuming toxic chemicals, because we know what we put in our soil.

I’ve also learned how to keep my own seeds for planting. That helps me save money because I don’t need to buy seeds or fresh vegetables any more. And I’ve started a small business pickling vegetables from my garden to sell to local restaurants. My kids are learning right along with me, since they help me with our garden. They’ve learned about recycling at school, and they like to find ways to make good use of our plastic garbage.

I’m grateful to God for giving me strength and perseverance, and I hope to continue learning about how to grow healthier, tastier food in my garden.

FRB’s local partner, ACJ, has learned that women are motivated by concern for their children to learn to grow, prepare and eat healthy foods. Using creative planting containers like sacks, bottles, or raised beds makes it easy for them to look after their vegetables close to their homes. Not only do containers conserve more water than traditional open beds – especially important during the dry season – but placing them close to their homes means they don’t have to carry water very far, and can re-use wash water for their plants.

Nicaragua-Boaco encompasses 8 communities, 210 households, and 860 individuals

04/07/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Women’s Self-Help Group Looks with Hope Toward the Future

In December of 2015, twelve women from a village in Northeast India attended a meeting where FRB’s local partner NEICORD was mobilizing Self-Help Groups as part of its India-Umsning program. The women liked the idea of receiving training designed to help farm families achieve maximum productivity on their land. The concept of Self-Help Groups also appealed to them since they often had difficulty making ends meet, despite the hard work their families did as day laborers.

These women formed a Self-Help Group of their own, and since then have participated in a number of workshops on a wide range of topics, from farming to group management, bookkeeping and leadership. The new agriculture techniques they’ve learned include Sloping Agriculture Land Technology (SALT), System of Rice Intensification (SRI), kitchen gardens, composting, water harvesting and livestock rearing. All 12 members have now planted kitchen gardens, and their families enjoy the nutritional benefits of a wide variety of vegetables. A group member declared that, “The kitchen garden has increased our nutrition security in the family.” Most have either begun or will soon begin using SALT and SRI practices as well.

The women all take part in monthly lessons organized by NEICORD on health, hygiene and nutrition. They also started raising pigs, using their savings to buy piglets and rear them as a group income-generating activity.

They’re saving small but significant sums of money every month. Says one, “Now we have access to loans through the internal-lending aspect of our group.” They even opened a group account at a local bank where they deposit their savings after every meeting. The members make loans to each other when requests are approved by the group. These women are looking forward to a better future. They understand that lasting change takes time, and they are willing to work hard and wait patiently for the best results for their families.

India-Umsning encompasses 12 communities, 190 households, and 950 individuals

04/06/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Model Farmers Spread Learning

Lyly, 34, was selected in 2014 to be a model farmer in FRB's Cambodia-South program, and has been active ever since in learning and trying out new techniques. Before her involvement with the program, her family depended on her husband's income as a barber and part-time construction worker, and she grew mainly rice and a few varieties of vegetables. She is now growing a wider variety of crops and replacing her use of standard fertilizer and other inputs with a number of organic practices. 

Lyly's vegetables, chicken and fish are not only for personal consumption but also to sell for income. With her overwhelming success in agriculture work, her husband now spends most of his time at home helping her with the farm. Open to sharing her experience with others, she is the type of person being recruited as model Multi-Purpose Farmers in a new phase of the program.

The program's local partners are signing up Farmer Field School (FFS) members and others who have been successful with new sustainable agriculture techniques and continue to experiment. Candidates must demonstrate a high level of responsibility and motivation, have a strong work ethic and an aptitude for adapting and innovating with agricultural practices. They must be willing to continue to share what they have learned with their neighbors. 

During the next six months of the program, the first group of 12 multi-purpose farmers will begin to prepare their farms by installing ponds, canals, and planting sites. They will visit a high-performing multi-purpose farm to learn about farm design. They will also receive training on soil enhancement techniques, raising animals, and year-round fruit and vegetable production.  They will start implementing what they have learned right away. As a group, they will meet quarterly at each other's farms to share experiences and progress. An expert farmer will visit their farms periodically to offer coaching.

The goal is to improve food security and income for rural farming households in Cambodia through the use of sustainable intensification practices and farming systems that enhance the productivity of farms and farmers' access to markets. This program seeks to establish 65 multi-purpose model farms over a three-year period which will help support learning for an additional 600 farmers.  

03/23/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

IN Church Grows Crops for Worlds Hungry

Solving world hunger is an ongoing problem for all nations. One solution is to provide food, but another is to help the mostly poor, rural families in less developed countries who lack the means and education to grow their own food.

At Union Center Church of the Brethren Church near Nappanee, the congregation has embraced the philosophy of self-sufficiency for these areas of the world. The church uses the profit from its own farmland and members' land to finance educational projects and farm supplies through a nonprofit organization known as Foods Resource Bank.

As a Missions and Service commission member for the church, Carl Detwiler was looking for a venture with global outreach

10/26/2015 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

In Cambodia, a family’s rice field flourishes despite drought

Bunthoeun, 45, his wife and their four children had a successful rice harvest in spite of last year’s drought because of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) he’d learned through FRB’s Cambodia-South program.

He also applied appropriate farming and poultry-raising techniques he’d mastered at the program’s hands-on Farmer Field School (FFS). The various new methods allowed him to provide diverse and nutritious food for his family, and he even had some surplus rice, produce and chickens to sell at the local market. With his newly acquired capital, he has been able to expand his rice field. 

04/08/2015 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

West Africa program evolves as community needs change

FRB’s program in West Africa responds with flexibility to the needs and vision of the communities involved. Students at various training events share what they’ve learned with their neighbors, so that everyone benefits. 

For example, a recent community workshop focused on basic veterinary care for poultry, including vaccination. One woman who attended had previously lost many chickens to disease,

04/01/2015 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

ONE HAND TO ANOTHER

From the 29th of November to the 7th of December, 2014, a group of nine from Foods Resource Bank (FRB) came to Nicaragua. For the majority, it was their first time visiting this land of beautiful nature and rich culture.

01/08/2015 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Charity that keeps giving, from Iowa to Nicaragua

Newsletter: 

Does your desk, like mine, have a stack of year-end charitable requests? 'Tis the season to ponder again what causes best fit our values and which organizations will make best use of the checks we send. With both my time and money I try to balance local and global needs, looking to create opportunity rather than dependency. The surprise is that to the extent I choose and act wisely, I am changed. I get to glimpse the best in humanity, a gift beyond measure in these days when our worst seems always in view.

Perhaps it's part of my Iowa DNA, but much of my personal focus is on raising food, from our backyard garden and chickens to the fields of smallholder farmers around the world. I know how it feels to be in relationship with the soil, the rain, the sun and the seasons. And I've seen the faces and heard the stories of what it means to parents in Zambia and Laos and Guatamala to be able to feed their families. Dignity, hope and creativity are part of the harvest and provide good seed for the future.

01/02/2015 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More