GMI team operating a sunflower press.
Tanzania (MNN) ― Tanzania is asking China to bankroll its economic crisis recovery effort. Among the areas the partnership will boost is agriculture. It's not a new idea, especially for groups like Grace Ministries International. They're doing outreach and development work in the the Rukwa Valley.
Sam Vinton with Grace Ministries International says, "I just got a great report telling about the nursery and introducing all kinds of plants, fruits and vegetables for the people...like palm trees, which they've never had. Now, they're planting them, and in a couple of years, they'll be having palm oil. One of the other great projects is a sunflower press."
GMI missionary Ted Rabenold has been working in Tanzania since 2001. He writes, "Oil is a very necessary commodity in the food chain of the people. But the oil that they use is produced in Asia, shipped to Dar-es-Salaam, transported by truck into the interior of Tanzania, and then carried on bicycles into the valley. This oil is very expensive and at times hard to get."
So Rabenold introduced improved varieties of sunflowers as a crop and assembled oil presses run by 24 hp diesel engines. The people plant and harvest their own sunflowers and bring them to be pressed, providing cooking oil for themselves and extra to sell to others.
The first press was so successful that an additional building was erected, a second oil press put into service, as well as a filtration system to clarify the oil for instant home use.
What does evangelism have to do with farming projects and sunflower presses? Mission work can't be done alone.
Vinton explains, "Things like that are just opening up doors for evangelistic outreach on the lake, visiting villages, the fishing villages and taking the Gospel to them. We're seeing some exciting things like that happening there, tying this into their lifestyle where they are, and it's very helpful to them."