‘’We are working together because it is the key of our success. ‘’ – A couple from Bondo Kanyinda in the Diocese of Two Kasai
An ARDF project is helping farmers in the Diocese of Two Kasai by teaching farming skills, giving out seeds, and providing agricultural extension services. When the Diocese applied for an ARDF grant, Kasai Oriental was blessed with a respite from the violence that has plagued this area. Unfortunately, instability has returned to the region. Recent news reports have been quite depressing.
Therefore, we wanted to bring you some good news out of this region. A report from the Diocese of Two Kasai describes the impact the project is making, just six months into implementation.
From the lush rain forests of the north to the dry savanna of the south, Kasai Oriental has a prolonged rainy season and valuable minerals. Even so, it is deemed one of the poorest provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Many of East Kasai’s residents have abandoned farming in favor of the easy profits offered by diamond mining.
Since Kasai Oriental has great potential for agriculture, its persistent food insecurity is worrying. In a diamond-rich province where most people have lost sight of how agriculture works, East Kasai’s food production has fallen short of demands due to soil degradation, a lack of fertilizer, and agricultural extension (training) services. Today, in the province’s major towns and cities, everything is bought at the market, and prices are high because the production of staple foods (maize, cassava, rice and black-eyed peas) fails to meet the needs of the province’s 6 million people.
In May 2016, ARDF approved a project in the Diocese of Two Kasai to improve the socio-economic livelihood of Kasai by teaching farming skills and offering extension services and quality seeds for planting. The overarching goal is to have farmers return to their fields and to move from subsistence farming to self-sufficient farming. You can read about the project here.
Six months into the project 181 farmers were trained in three sites of the project. This is already above the anticipated 150 farmers to be trained. The first harvest of maize (7,200kg!) has encouraged the farmers and it reflects the collaboration and support from community leaders. More promisingly, 38 young people have returned to farming, cultivating their own fields. Because of the fall of the price of diamonds, more people than expected have been convinced that agriculture is the key to economic success in the region.
Additionally, the households involved in the first harvest are increasing the number of meals they eat according the chief of the project because of the new skills and the harvest received from the fall planting. A second planting was recently completed in March 2017.
As the project continues it will include livestock and a micro-finance portion. We are thankful that the Diocese of Two Kasai is well on its way toward reaching the project goals. And they are grateful for those who have made this possible!