"I have a reason to smile,” says Shila, a 33-year old participant in FRB’s Uganda-Teso program. “My farm production has increased dramatically every year I’ve been involved. After receiving training in Conservation Agriculture (CA), Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), vegetable growing, and participating in my farmer group and Village Savings and Loan (VSL) group, I have made it through this year’s challenges in spite of the drought. I am now a role model in our community.”
Shila, her husband, and their 10 children are now “Farming as a Family Business,” and everyone is engaged in the production cycle at all levels. With timely planting, mulching, crop rotation and other CA practices, they earned 4,200,000 Shillings ($1,200) from selling beans and maize. They used part of the money for baking bricks and purchasing cement to build a permanent house. Says Shila, “Our plan is to finish the house next year, save for next year’s farming, and continue paying school fees for all of our children.”
Julius, 24, is married, with a baby girl. He and his Village Savings Loan group began saving money in 2014, and he recently had enough to buy a heifer. He says, “This year I was selected to serve as a Community Resource Person. I participated in many different training events so I could pass my learning on to my community. My vision is to acquire land, since I inherited only two acres from our family land share.” In addition to helping others, Julius says, “I am championing my own development.”
Farming as a Family Business participants like Richard realize that farming is not just a lifestyle or a game but a long-term commitment to investing, planning, monitoring, reviewing and evaluating their farms for success. Richard says, “I have rented a simple treadle pump to help me during this dry spell. I want to make the most of this season. I have planted eggplant, cabbage, tomatoes and green pepper. I’m using small water reservoirs in the swamp for watering, and all the members of my household are carrying out tasks best suited to their abilities and preferences.”
Led by World Renew and local pattern Katakwi Integrated Development Organization (KIDO), FRB's Uganda Teso program encompasses 12 communities, 802 households and 4,812 individuals.
Foods Resources Bank (FRB) and the Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) recently announced a partnership agreement that strengthens their efforts to reduce hunger through sustainable agriculture and improved nutrition. By working together, the two organizations will now be able to share a network of learning and deepen their reach into communities at the economic margins of Africa.
“This is an exciting opportunity to create more paths to solving world hunger and learn from each other,” says FRB CEO Marv Baldwin. OAIC joins FRB's network of 23 partner organizations all focused on creating lasting food security programs in developing countries."
Adds OAIC Secretary Reverend Nicta Lubaale, “Being African means being resourceful. We are using local resources and teaching sustainable agricultural techniques to transform the way smallholder farmers grow food to improve their yields as well as the nutritional variety of the foods they produce and consume.”
Under-nourishment in Sub-Saharan Africa is a big challenge. The 2015 report of the State on Food Insecurity in the World indicates that 220 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are living in a state of hunger. In the East African region, 37 million are undernourished. Both FRB and OAIC see agriculture as a lasting solution to hunger. By organizing community groups and providing tools and training to smallholder farmers, these farmers are able to generate sufficient food for their families, share the excess as well as sell some to afford household staples and school requirements for their school-going children.
“Charity never ends poverty,” says Lubaale. “But once you have productive land, you will not go hungry.”
FRB has supported one million people as they have transformed from living in chronic hunger to becoming food secure in its first 15 years and has set a goal to reach the next million in half that time. OAIC is targeting 3,000 congregations and farmers’ organizations to reach 400,000 smallholder farmers in three years. With an average of five family members per household, approximately two million people will realize food and nutritional security and improved incomes through OAIC’s outreach.
Congratulations to Foods Resource Bank’s own Ron DeWeerd and Reverend Joan Fumetti named as the 2016 Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award winners. This prestigious award is given annually to recognize an Iowan who has provided significant leadership in confronting hunger and alleviating human suffering both at home and abroad. This is the first time the honor has been bestowed on two people.
“We are deeply gratified by this recognition of the humanitarian gifts of two people who have shaped FRB’s mission and ministry,” says FRB President and CEO Marv Baldwin.
When announcing the award recipients at a press conference on Monday, The World Food Prize organization lauded FRB as “one of the most dynamic and innovative agricultural assistance programs in America.” The award will be formally presented to Ron and Joan at the Iowa Hunger Summit on October 10 in advance on of the World Food Prize October 12-14.
“Hunger is simply not acceptable in this era,” says Ron. “This award shines a light not only on the issue of hunger, but also on the organizations that are taking action to address it.”
Adds Joan, “We have heard first-hand from the farmers we have helped across the globe how the money we have raised is directly making a difference in people’s lives. I am profoundly thankful for the global network possibility FRB has helped create.”
Since 1999, FRB’s volunteers, community projects, member organizations, individual donors, corporations and foundations have made it possible for over a million people around the world to achieve food security. If you’d like to join FRB in reaching The Next 1 Million people, please donate online. FRB has received the top, 4-Star rating of Charity Navigator, one of the nation’s most trusted charity evaluators.
Ron, FRB’s director of resource development, has been with FRB since it’s founding in 1999. Joan joined FRB as a volunteer in 2001, became our director of growing project development in 2002, and transitioned back to volunteer work when she retired from FRB in 2014. Together they have inspired thousands of people in Iowa and across the country to change the conversation about world hunger from food aid to supporting small farmers and their communities as they grow their own lasting solutions to hunger.
“Ron and Joan have taught us, with their words and their actions on behalf of FRB, that all people everywhere deserve the opportunity live healthy, more productive, more hopeful lives,” says FRB board director Geoff Andersen, who spoke at the World Food Prize press conference announcing the winners. “By their example, they have demonstrated how each of us can play a part in ending world hunger. Thousands have heeded their call, and for that we are all grateful.”
Together, Ron and Joan inspired farmers, landowners, rural and urban people, churches, businesses, civic groups, youth organizations, and volunteers of every stripe to give the gifts they could give – time, expertise, elbow grease, or money – to allow FRB to offer practical and innovative ways to grow their own food, care for their families, and stay in their own communities.
“Our success would not be possible without FRB and the volunteers, farmers, churches and many U.S organizations that joined us in our mission,” says Ron. “That also includes the journalists that have helped tell our story to thousands across the Midwest and nation.”
Adds Joan, “We have never done anything on our own. By connecting a network of people around the world, we’ve created lasting bonds between U.S. farmers and their farming neighbors half a world away.”
Both Ron and Joan continue to educate people about the complexities of world hunger: climate challenges, soil and water degradation, international markets, land grabs, natural and man-made disasters, and how all these affect the poor and the vulnerable. They are tireless advocates for peace and social justice and the potential of smallholder farmers to feed their communities as long as they have training and support and feel empowered to determine their own goals and realize their own dreams for their future.
Says Geoff, “I know you join me in thanking Ron and Joan for their vision, their passion, their energy, and their belief in the dignity and value of all people. They are humanitarians in the richest sense, and I am grateful for their service to FRB and to all humankind.”