Ethiopia (MNN) — Five years ago, the
SIM International Forest, Fruit, and Forage for Farm Families, or 5Fs
Project, introduced apple and plum seedlings to the Awi farming community in
Today, the local fruit growers'
cooperative is already reaping big dividends. In the most recent growing season, it sold
$30,000 worth of seedlings.
"The cooperative had less than 40 members to share this wealth," said project manager Mark MacLachlan. "This is a huge income for these farm
families, in a country where per capita income is somewhere just above $100 USD."
The vision of the 5Fs Project is
"a better life for farm families," which includes physical health, basic
life necessities, and spiritual health. The project targets the resource-poor
subsistence farm families among the Awi people.
MacLachlan already sees the
increased income making a difference for the families in the community. Despite overall adverse economic conditions
in Ethiopia, multiple families replaced their grass roofs with tin roofs over the
last several months. Grass roofs may
look pretty, but they're impractical, MacLachlan explained.
"For Ethiopians, these ‘picturesque'
grass roofs are known to harbor snakes, and if not for those, the rats would
live freely in the roofs," he said. "A
twitch of a small rodent's tail in the grass can send bits and pieces of dirt
and straw down into the house onto clean clothes, onto a child's school work,
or worse, into the cook pot over the fire. Ethiopians have lived this way for centuries,
but most prefer a tin roof."
A portable sawmill also forms a
part of the 5Fs Project's forestry development component. A local youth cooperative owns it, operates
it, and sells the lumber.
The Awi people live in poverty,
and their natural resources are overworked and abused. More than 99 percent of them follow the
ancient Ethiopian Orthodox religion, and the community is highly resistant to
the Gospel. The agricultural renewal projects
open doors to share God's Word, and some have come to know the Lord.
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