Organic farming in Burundi: more than a health thing

By April 22, 2014
Margarite Mukankundiye gives a tour of her garden, demonstrating proper farming techniques. (Photo by Food for the Hungry)

Margarite Mukankundiye gives a tour of her garden, demonstrating proper farming techniques.
(Photo by Food for the Hungry)

Burundi (FH/MNN) — As many celebrate taking care of God’s creation on Earth Day today, Food for the Hungry (FH) is contributing to teaching others to be good stewards of our environment. What they’re teaching in Burundi strikes a chord with those participating in the increasing devotion to organic farming in the US.

FH has introduced organic farming practices to Burundian farmers for providing more food to help reduce the two-thirds of the population living below the poverty line. To get the information to communities faster, FH used community members to learn, teach, and network the information: a social networking of organic farming and nutrition.

Agriculture is the primary economic activity for Burundi. As the country continues to rebuild after a decade of civil war, FH is teaching improved farming practices to help increase yield, and subsequently, households’ nutrition and disposable income.

Nahimana Marie Gusile, a 26-year-old woman who cares for two children, ages 12 and 1, owns a small piece of land where she grows food for household consumption. She joined one of FH/Burundi’s agriculture projects in 2009, which provided training in skills such as crop management and maintaining soil fertility.

“FH has taught me so many techniques on how to cultivate vegetables at home, which greatly improves nutrition. My harvest has doubled thanks to the FH training. I have enough to eat and enough to sell in the market,” says Nahimana.

Nahimana planted food-producing trees from her savings that she believes will greatly improve her household income over a long period of time. “I have not yet harvested from these trees, but they will help provide a consistent income once they grow,” she says.

In order to effectively transfer knowledge of good farming practices to large groups of people, FH uses a model of training community members known as a cascade group. This model teaches community members how to train others in the practices they have learned by demonstration.

In 2009, Magarite Mukankundiye, a widowed mother of three, was part of a group of women that traveled to Rwanda for a Trainer of Trainers course. She is committed to helping spread life-saving information to the other families and individuals in her community.

Now, as a community supervisor, Margarite oversees 78 people, teaching women in her group to improve the nutrition in their homes through kitchen gardens, encouraging families to use manure from goats to improve soil fertility.

“FH has invested in people. People love FH because their monitors and supervisors come deep in the community and are engaged in the daily lives of the community members,” Margarite says.

Today, Magarite buys only things that she doesn’t cultivate in her garden and her farm is a demonstration garden. She attests to the change among members of her community, thanks to the ability to maintain healthy soil and efficient farming rotations.

“Nutrition habits have changed; many now observe high hygiene standards, and mothers monitor the growth of their children as we have shown them how,” she says.

Pray that these farmers who are practicing godly agriculture will learn more about Christ through the investment of FH.

If you’d like to contribute to the work being done in Burundi, click here. Project Designation: Burundi.

This is the kind of difference FH and their partners are making together: ending poverty and inspiring hope.

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