How can the church successfully support farmers?
“I am proud to be called farmer.”
Democratic Republic of Congo
An ARDF project helped farmers in the Diocese of Two Kasai by teaching farming skills, giving out seeds, and providing agricultural extension services. It countered people’s dependence on relief food and mining work by training the participants to work as a team to increase their food production.
Why focus on this region? First some context:
From the lush rain forests of the north to the savanna of the south, the region of Kasai Oriental has a prolonged rainy season and valuable minerals. So it is surprising that it is one of the poorest provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). With its great potential for agriculture, the persistent food insecurity is worrying. Part of the problem is that many of East Kasai’s residents abandoned farming in favor of the easy profits offered by diamond mining. East Kasai’s food production also fell due to soil degradation and a lack of fertilizer and agricultural extension services.
Because of this, residents must buy the food they need in the market in major towns. Here prices are high because the production of staple foods (maize, cassava, rice and black-eyed peas) is not enough to meet the demand of the province’s 6 million people.
In 2016, the church developed a plan to improve the socio-economic livelihood of Kasai. By teaching farming skills, quality seeds, and offering extension services, they would minister to young residents who might consider leaving the mining industry. Leaders recognized that if residents were to be asked to leave the mining industry and return to agriculture, they needed support!
As the project comes to a close, 120 farmers have successfully increased their harvests, directly due to the skills they learned. The government has been unable to support the agricultural efforts of the farmers. When the church came along to offer this training - and follow-up support, the residents were thrilled. Now, because of the encouraging results, others are interested in investing again in agriculture.
“I was the farmer without skills, but now I can produce more food for my family and I am proud to be called farmer. I am able to satisfy the basic needs of my family.”
— Luboya Mosuth, Bakamba Commune, Mbujimayi, DRC
Thirty-eight young people have returned to farming, cultivating their own fields. This is more than expected, partially because of the fall of the price of diamonds. But it is exciting that residents have been convinced that agriculture is the key to economic success in the region.
Everyone has seen that giving skills to those returning from the mines is helping the entire community.
Project implementers report stronger community associations, better economic development, and stronger churches as more people join the church as a result of its involvement with the community. This project demonstrates that using local expertise in agriculture can help create a stable society and, at the same time, empower people to participate in their own development activities.
We are grateful to all of the ARDF donors who enabled the Diocese of Two Kasai to provide the training, the seeds, and the extension services to increase the harvests in the region. Please pray with us for all the new farmers, that they would be encouraged by the harvests to come.