By Amanda Thorsteinsson, Canadian Foodgrains Bank
The crops grown on Canadian farms already help feed the world, but some Canadian farmers go the extra mile, giving their time, equipment and resources toward making a difference in the fight against global hunger.
From British Columbia to the Maritimes, about 250 groups of farmers come together to grow a crop each year. After the crop is harvested, it’s sold on the Canadian market, and the proceeds are donated to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, where it is used to help in the fight against global hunger.
The Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 Canadian church and church agencies working together to end hunger by responding to emergency food needs in times of war, drought, or other emergency; helping people increase their access to food in the longer term by helping them grow more food; and by supporting nutrition programs focused on mothers and young children.
In January, the Foodgrains Bank committed three projects totaling $900,000.
One project, through Foodgrains Bank member Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is working with families in South Kivu Province, an area that has suffered from civil war and widespread hunger.
Most families in this area rely on what they can grow on very small pieces of land to support themselves and their families through the year. However, this is often challenging, and many families go through a hunger season each year while they wait for their crops to mature.
The terrain of the project area is both mountainous and swampy, and a recent landslide degraded much of the soil, making it even more difficult for families to grow enough food.
Unable to survive off their land, men have been forced to leave their families behind in search of work in the city and in mines, leaving the bulk of the work of growing food to women.
In response, CBM, through their local Congolese partner Communauté Baptiste au Centre de l’Afrique, is providing agricultural training to 400 farm families (about 2,800 people), particularly female or child-headed families, families affected by HIV/AIDS, and families returning home after being displaced by conflict.
The project, worth $99,000, is introducing conservation agriculture, distributing quality seed, and helping farmers improve the quality of their soil.
Another project, through Foodgrains Bank member Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR), is responding to the needs of people in the Afar region of Ethiopia continually affected by a prolonged failure of seasonal rains.
The lack of rain is degrading the land and making it difficult for people to earn a livelihood.
In response, Foodgrains Bank member CLWR, through Support for Sustainable Development, is supporting community members in building a permanent, sustainable irrigation system to divert water from a local river for use in growing crops.
One member of each participating household is receiving food in return for their labour on the project, and households are also receiving sustainable agriculture training. The project total is $513,000.
In Laos, Mennonite Central Committee Canada is helping communities in Tha Thom district improve their food security through training in natural resource management, promoting increased and diversified household food production, and improving the capacity of communities to plan and manage their own development. 5,000 people are benefitting and the project is worth $327,000.
Projects supported by Canadian Foodgrains Bank are undertaken with support from the Government of Canada.
To learn more about the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and its projects or to find out how you can get involved, visit www.foodgrainsbank.ca