Bangladesh (MNN) ― Farmers in the Chittagong Hills of Bangladesh are getting an upgrade.
Since 1996, FARMS International has partnered with local churches in the Chittagong Hills to provide income-generating loans for poor Christian families. Through FARMS loans, needy believers were given a shot at earning an honest and sustainable income.
Now, FARMS is taking it a step further with their new Tractor-Tiller Program.
“These things are very useful and very multi-purpose,” says FARMS Executive Director Joseph Richter.
He says these two-wheeled, diesel-powered machines are a common sight in Asia. They’re used for obvious purposes, like tilling fields, as well as towing anything from carts to fertilizer.
“In fact, the motor many times is hooked up to a rice mill and can be used to power that, or an irrigation pump,” Richter adds.
The problem lies in how to obtain said handy hardware. In most villages, believers have to rent tractor-tillers at an enormous cost, thereby cancelling any profit that could be gained from the harvest.
But by owning tractor-tillers, families wouldn’t have to worry about rent. And, by renting out this equipment to fellow believers at a fair price, everyone could benefit at a lesser overall cost.
For a culture that depends on agriculture for existence, these tractor-tillers will be a HUGE benefit. They’ll help the Church, too.
“Part of the loan requirement is that they agree to tithe back into their local church from the profits,” Richter explains. “This has tremendously helped the hill tribe community and especially the churches in that area.”
Through tithes given by FARMS-assisted families, indigenous congregations can fund church-planting endeavors, outreach projects, or ordinary operating expenses.
“I would really like to see people pray that more and more churches would be planted throughout that region,” says Richter.
Right now, FARMS is working with approximately 125 churches in the Chittagong Hills region.
“It continues to grow, but it’s very difficult,” he explains. “Many villages are hike-in only.”
Pray that the Body of Christ in Chittagong Hills grows through opportunities created by this project.
“There needs to be a lot of prayer for courage and faith to reach out, especially to some of the unreached tribes in that area,” Richter says.
The average cost of a tractor-tiller is about $2,000 USD, and Richter says they’re beginning this project with two units. Between 20 and 30 families can be helped through this project, and FARMS’ church partners expect to recover their costs in about 2 years.