In the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, CBM is working in the South Kivu Province. The goals of this project include increased soil fertility, an increased number of farmers with access to high quality seeds, cuttings and improved seedlings, increased food production and consumption, and an increased percentage of farmers with access to loans and the food market.
Through this project, participants were trained on conservation agriculture practices such as soil protection through mulching and planting trees to protect the environment. Village Savings and Loan Associations were created, and farmers were able to buy animals for breeding, consumption, and generating manure. Farmers also learned about the advantages of kitchen gardening, along with growing techniques, and how to sell extra produce in the markets.
Farmers like Mrs. Namwezi learned about the value of planting high-yielding crops. After receiving training, she uprooted her eucalyptus and sugarcane plants and planted vegetables such as tomatoes and cabbages and began growing them using the techniques she learned. She also joined the local village savings and loans group and is saving one dollar each week. After a year of saving, she was able to buy two pigs. She said, “I am so happy to be a part of this project because now I have a home garden and am eating two healthy and nutritional meals each day. The VSLA program has been a great help for me and with the money I am saving, I plan on upgrading my house.”
“It is real, true and easy.” These are the words from Keziah Wangui, a project beneficiary farmer in KENYA who was asked about her views towards Conservation Agriculture Technology. “All it requires is the farmer’s commitment and the zeal to do it,” she said.
Keziah, who is 56 years old, says that she has been farming for many years using conventional methods. Many seasons, she got very little or no harvest at all. “After working the land all season, the results were very frustrating.” This was the routine experience of farmers in the community. ACC&S identified that food security was a major problem in the area due to low crop yields, unreliable rainfall, poor farming practices, limited accessibility to certified seeds and declining soil fertility.
When Keziah was invited to attend the conservation agriculture workshops held by ACC&S, she started a trial on her land using the new techniques. “I started with ¼ an acre and now I have extended it to a whole acre.”
As Keziah confirms, she has seen the benefits that soil cover, minimum soil disturbance and crop mixing have provided on her land. She says that covering the soil has benefitted in moisture retention and has increased the soil fertility while preventing soil erosion. Crop mixing and association has increased production, diversity and the nutritional value in her family.
The food security project has provided a solution to the issue of food insecurity which has been a regular problem in the community. With a smile, Keziah shared that the economic status of her family has improved through the sale of surplus produce, and the money has greatly assisted in paying secondary school fees for her daughter. She added that she is saving for her daughter’s college fees as well. “This project brought a lot of hope to my family. May God bless the ACC&S.”
LEBANON is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and hosts the highest number of refugees per capita. Lebanon continues to face multiple converging crises—severe financial instability, COVID-19, and the lingering impact of the August 4, 2020, Beirut port explosion—all of which have come on top of the Syrian refugee crisis and have contributed to high levels of food insecurity across the country. Since 2019, Lebanon’s economic crisis—considered by the World Bank as one of the worst global economic crises in the past 150 years—has resulted in massive unemployment, inflation, loss of purchasing power, and increased hunger. In July 2021, UNICEF estimated that 50 percent of the Lebanese population was living below the poverty line due to the country’s worsening economic crisis. According to the UN World Food Program, 9 in 10 Syrians in Lebanon are living in extreme poverty.
The Ukrainian crisis has already resulted in an increase in food prices across Lebanon. As of April 2022, the crisis had led to a 91% increase in the price of sunflower oil, a 70% increase in the price of sugar, and a 46% increase in the price of bread.
CBM, through our membership with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is working with our on-the-ground partner MERATH to provide monthly food baskets for Syrian refugees living in Zahle. Refugees in the region continue to struggle to provide for their families, with many households eating less frequent meals, buying cheaper quality food items, skipping meals, and borrowing money and food from local shops. Often, parents are forced to withdraw their children from school and allow them to work outside the home.
Wafah is a 45-year-old mother who fled the war in Syria and has been living in Lebanon for more than five years. Four of her children attend the nearby school run by the local church. Each month, Wafah receives a food box from the church, along with diapers and other essential supplies. “Most Syrian refugees would prefer to feed their children and go without food themselves. I do this sometimes too. Every refugee here has had to make that decision and do what they can to feed their kids. I thank every organization and family that is trying to help. Without this ministry, we would go hungry, as the box has all I need to cook our food. My little baby needs milk and diapers and the church supplies this.”
Hunger and food security continue to be a widescale, growing global issue. CBM remains committed to fighting hunger for the long haul. Our long-standing membership in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is one of the very impactful relationships assisting us in this fight. As the prophet Isaiah declares, we honour God by “loosening the chains of injustice, sharing our food with the hungry, providing the poor with shelter, and clothing the naked.” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NIV)