frb newsletter

FRB Mourns Passing of Founding Member Vernon Sloan

With great sadness FRB announces the passing of one of our founders, Vernon Sloan. He peacefully entered eternal rest on October 7 at his home in Stryker, Ohio after battling a long illness. He was 91.

A fourth-generation farmer, Vernon considered it his mission to feed people. He dedicated both his farm and life to doing just that. In 1999, Vernon and his wife Carol founded FRB along with several agricultural business leaders and Christian organizations that fund and run international food security programs. Since then, FRB has helped over 1 million people in developing countries become food secure. Vernon’s legacy continues as we work to reach the Next 1 Million through agricultural training and development programs in 30 countries.

“He was a soft-spoken, yet well respected leader in his community who cared deeply for the world’s hungry,” says FRB CEO Marv Baldwin. “Vernon voluntarily served on our board for years and his vision, compassion, and faith will continue to guide us. His memory is a blessing.”

Visitation will be from 2-6 p.m. Friday, October 13 at the Stryker United Methodist Church, with a memorial service at 6:30 p.m. Fellowship time with family will immedialty follow the memorial service. Arrangements are by the Grisier Funeral Home.

Follow this link for more details on Vernon’s remarkable faith and service-filled life, including as a U.S. Army veteran and founder and past president of the Williams County Pork Producers, the Williams County Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Williams County 4-H Endowment Committee.

10/09/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Many Hands Make Light Work

Newsletter: 

“Many hands make light work.” In Haiti’s Northwest Department, this is more than just a common saying. This is the principle behind the work that Foods Resource Bank supports through CWS and other partners.

I recently traveled to Haiti and met with some of the cooperatives that the program supports. Through the work of local partner SKDE – translated to the Center for Christian Integrated Development – the program supports 12 cooperatives that reach nearly 5,000 families. 

06/08/2016 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Farming as a Family, the Impact of Gender on Agriculture

Through its partnership with Lutheran World Relief, FRB supported a pilot project called Learning for Gender Integration. Read about the results in the article below. 

Farmers in the Flor de Pancasán area of Nicaragua’s Matiguás municipality were struggling. They were seeing low crop yields for a variety of reasons, including soil depletion, a lack of resources to make key investments and weather fluctuations, and this was affecting their ability to feed their families. Through its Learning for Gender Integration project, Lutheran World Relief wanted to see whether an initiative to increase agricultural production and improve food security might be bolstered with efforts to reduce gender gaps.

06/08/2016 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Mushrooming Success for Cambodian Farmers

Channy and Chantol, a young Cambodian couple, have seen many changes over the last few years, all thanks to a fungus.  They were among the first to adopt mushroom growing when World Hope began working in their village three years ago.  “We were skeptical at first, said Channy, “so we just built a small mushroom house to test it out.”  After realizing how beneficial mushrooms could be, they built a second, larger structure and their parents built two structures as well.
 
The couple works hard, and has become skillful mushroom growers.  Although they typically average an income of $300 per month, they have earned as much as $1,000 in a month from mushrooms alone.  This is especially impressive considering that the GDP per capita in Cambodia is $1,159.   On the off days between planting and harvest, Channy sells sugarcane juice for additional income.

As a result of their efforts, the couple has been able to purchase a motorbike, buy land, and build a new house. They are also raising chickens and ducks, and eating higher-quality food now, given their improved income. Their mushroom houses are still behind their parents’ home, but they plan to build additional structures on their own property soon. 

Although Channy and Chantol are in many ways model mushroom farmers, their success has not come without challenges.  Their parents recently filled in the land in front of their home, so when it rains hard, the water flows downhill into the mushroom house, bringing with it debris that can damage the growing crop.  In addition, now that others are also growing mushrooms, the necessary materials (rice straw and mung-bean pods) that were once readily available and free, are becoming very valuable and hard to find.


Cambodia East program
Led by World Hope
3 Communities, 340 Households, 1,700 Individuals



10/13/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Water Security Flows Into Food Security

During a severe 2014 drought, a neighboring community and its 10,000 head of cattle survived because of sand dams, the only source of water.  So, when the 15 members of a self-help group in FRB's Kenya Ngong Intashat program decided it was time to build one, they were able to recruit their entire community to pitch in.

These concrete structures, built across sandy areas along seasonal rivers, capture and hold water and sand from flash floods. As the raging waters slam into the dam, sand carried by the water sinks, and water collects in the sand in the hole dug for the purpose. More water is held in a pond on the other side of the wall, and used throughout the year for household needs, agriculture, and livestock.  When a drought hits and the pond is dry, water that’s been stored in the sand away from dirt and insects can be reached by digging. 

The dam in Kajiado County was inaugurated in April, and the community received instruction on its care and efficient use. Because maintenance is in the hands of the residents, they know it’s up to them to keep it in good order. They’ll be building a fence to keep livestock out, and directing water to collection points below the dam for cattle to drink.

This community has started a small vegetable garden near the dam site, planting kales, spinach and onions. Because most people’s experience and livelihoods are based on cattle, they receive training from MIDI, the local partner, on keeping bees, tending kitchen gardens, and creating small-business activities. Self-help groups are also learning dryland farming techniques to diversify their food sources and protect themselves from total crop failures.

Kenya Ngong Intashat program
Led by Mennonite Central Committee and local partner MIDI
10 communities, 4,500 households, 31,500 individuals




09/28/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Childhood Malnutrition Drops Dramatically

FRB’s Castrovirreyna program is the only NGO presence in eight remote Andean villages in Peru’s poorest state. At up to 15,000 feet, temperatures are below freezing at night, and hailstorms, floods and droughts are common. Yet the inhabitants are so grateful for the assistance that they quickly put into practice everything they learn. The most remarkable result so far is a dramatic reduction in child malnutrition, from 55% to 22%.

The yield of vegetables from farmer Rubén’s greenhouse is so good he has extra to sell. His organic methods control pests and fungi, and he’s raising disease-free potato seedlings to share with his community. Rubén says, “More potatoes mean more income and a better life for my family.” His children are all in school, and he foresees a brighter future for them.

Mario and Lucía raise guinea pigs and chickens, grow vegetables in their greenhouse for home and market, and plant 100 different varieties of potatoes and tubers. Each has a special flavor, unique nutrients, and traits such as suitability for mashing, baking, adding to soups, or as an entrée, or can withstand drought or excessive rains.

Once Eusebia and Juvenal learned that storing cooking and eating utensils on the floor exposed them to parasitic diseases from their chickens and guinea pigs, they were quick to build recommended shelving. Eusebia says she can’t remember the last time her kids were sick, now that they boil water for drinking and cleaning and keep their utensils stacked in their new cupboard.

When Marcos and his wife, Basilisa, were asked whether the program should invest more in his community or expand to others, Marcos replied, “We’ve already been so blessed.  More people should be blessed like we’ve been.” At a loss for words in Spanish, their second language, to express what the program has meant to them, Marcos and other participants simply say, “Gracias. Gracias. Gracias.”

Pictured: Eusebia with shelving unit


Led by Lutheran World Relief and Local Partner CEDINCO
8 Communities, 112 Households, 557 Individuals

09/26/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Seeing is Believing

Land is scarce in Tan Son district in North Central Vietnam, and growing enough food to last throughout the year is a challenge. It is no wonder that farmers are hesitant to adjust their practices without proof that it will work. The Tan Son program is working to provide the needed proof, and farmers are slowly changing their practices. 

One of the major changes that is already being seen across the area is the use of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI).  Farmers who are using it seem convinced that the wider spacing and use of a single seedling per planting station are making a difference and increasing their yields.  The main question most farmers still struggle with is about the amount and type of fertilizer they should use.

Fertilizer helps plants to grow well, so many farmers figure that more fertilizer is better, and use as much as they can afford.  The Tan Son program is encouraging farmers to experiment with three different approaches. The first is to use as much as the farmer can afford.  The second is the amount recommended by the local extension agent, applied at three different times during the growing season. The third is one application of slow-release fertilizer at a low dosage.  Each approach was modeled across several villages, allowing farmers to observe the resulting yields and decide for themselves which method works best.

Cuong experimented with a single application of slow-release fertilizer.  Using this method, she produced enough rice to last her family throughout the year. After seeing a 70% increase in her production with reduced fertilizer, she is enthusiastic about using this method again.

Uyen followed the advice of the district agriculture consultant and used three applications of fertilizer.  While she saw a 29% increase in production, she suspects it is from her switch to SRI, since she used the same fertilization method as before. She plans to experiment with several types of fertilizer during the next growing season to determine which works best.

Tim used both slow release fertilizer and compost.  Her yield has doubled thanks to the use of SRI.  One of her fields did not do well since fertilizer runoff from a neighbor’s overuse affected her field.  This helped her to conclude that it is very important not to overuse fertilizer.

A member of the Kim Thuong Commune Project Management Committee noted that the program has been instrumental in helping people learn to use fertilizer appropriately and enabling them to grow enough rice through SRI to meet their food security needs.

Vietnam Tan Son program
Led by Mennonite Central Committee and
People's Committee of Tan Son District
6 Communities, 512 Households, 2,212 Individuals

09/18/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Mulching Means More Maize

Salome spends a lot less time on farm work because the mulching she does suppresses weeds and frees her from hoeing, a task that used to consume most of her time.  

Like most farmers in this dry region of Kenya, Salome’s maize yields were increasingly disappointing until she tried a number of techniques aimed at building soil fertility and retaining moisture.  This harvest, Salome’s production tripled in spite of a lack of rain.  She had improved her soil with such conservation agriculture practices as minimum tillage, applying manure as fertilizer, crop rotation, agroforestry, and using drought-tolerate varieties. But, for Salome, the technique she most appreciates is mulching. With less overall work, her harvest increased from one to four 220-pound bags of maize in the same small plot.

She and other farmers have also started practicing better post-harvest grain handling and storage, including drying maize on tarps in the sun to prevent the poisonous fungus aflatoxin. Many are storing their grain now in hermetically sealed bags that prevent moisture and pests without chemicals. Higher yields and reduced post-harvest losses mean more overall food for their families, more to sell, and more to plant the following year.

Participant farmers are also planting trees to produce fruit, fuel, wood, shade, and mulching materials. All these and other improved practices are taught at the program’s two hands-on Farmer Field Schools and disseminated through their communities by trained facilitators. When they see the great results that conservation farming yields, area farmers go on to put their new knowledge to work on their own farms.

Kenya Tigania encompasses 7 Communities, 200 Households, 1,000 Individuals
Led by World Renew and local partner ADS - Mt Kenya

09/14/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Faith and Farming Empower Communities

Newsletter: 

Pastor Santiago is the spiritual and community leader of a place called Las Cabeceras. A farmer himself, he uses his influence with his deeply devout community to address water scarcity and prolonged drought and bring about real improvements in people’s lives. As he puts it, “We are all responsible for caring for Creation.”

Program communities are often cut off from the rest of the world by distance and impassable roads, so people depend on each other for their survival. Santiago is one of 20 active community organizers and promoters in the FRB food security program, and encourages neighbors affected by the three-year drought to find ways to become more resilient.

Santiago came to Las Cabeceras 15 years ago because of the good conditions for agriculture – fertile soils and plenty of rain. However, in the last six years, yields have been declining as result of the combination of very high temperatures and poor rain patterns, which in turn have resulted in severe economic losses.

Since Santiago joined the program, he’s better able to support his family economically with his “diversified farm,” growing maize, beans, sorghum, banana, cassava and more so that he still has food if one or more crops fail. Farmers are finding solutions to water scarcity, improving soils, protecting their watersheds, engaging in reforestation, and experimenting with a variety of climate-specific seeds and seed banks.

He says, “The hands-on Farmer Field Schools in the program are important because they allow us to come together and look for a solution to a common problem like the drought. We share our ideas and experiences and reinforce the need for everyone in the community to seek compromises and solutions.”

Pictured:  Felix and his diversified farm

Nicaragua Carazo program
Led by Church World Service and local partner CIEETS
8 communities, 220 households, 1,251 individuals


09/12/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Community Pools Resources to Overcome Drought

Once community members in FRB’s Kenya Magarini program realized they had the resources at hand to overcome food insecurity despite their challenges, including a regional drought, they poured themselves into making positive change happen. The inspiration came from a hands-on Participatory Rural Assessment (PRA) process that helped them analyze their challenges, identify solutions and create a community action plan to guide their development.  

“If it hadn’t been for this program and the PRA, we would not be farming as a group and we could not know the benefits of coming together as a community,” says Saidi, a trained community resource person.

He tells how they started with two Farmer Field Schools with demo farms. The first planting season was challenging because of the drought. They only planted a few crops -- just enough to establish a kitchen garden for the farmers to learn about crop diversification as a way to reduce their risks of crop failure. But when they also tried planting on their individual farms, the farmers harvested little or nothing due to the drought.

That’s when the field school members decided to join forces to plant a community garden. A member loaned them two acres of land that had adequate water for irrigation so they could produce vegetables for income and family consumption. They received a loan from their community-based savings and loan association to purchase insecticides and, with additional capital from members, they bought seeds.

"Member families had access to nutritious vegetables that they could either buy or receive on credit,” says Chrispine, a farmer in the program. At times members even received free produce to motivate them to work in the garden.

Saidi reports that they made a total of $773 from the sale of the second harvest, and $360 from the third. That harvest was smaller because of some challenges the group faced with the farm owner, but they are now clearing and preparing a different plot for their fourth planting season.

The community is buying PVC pipe and a water pump for irrigation, and bricks to construct a shallow well for easier access to water. They also have money in their account for fuel for the water pump, land preparation and farm inputs.

“The challenges didn’t stop us from doing what we love,” says Saidi. “We are really grateful.”

Kenya Magarini encompasses 10 communities, 1,842 households and 4,836 individuals

Led by World Renew and local partner ADS Pwani

06/01/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
Syndicate content