Catholic Relief Services

A-maize-ing Results: “My Family is Better off All Around”

At the close of this program in Timor Leste’s Viqueque region, Manuel says his family is better off all around. “We don’t have to buy as much in the market so it’s a saving for us. And, a few months ago, I sold some of my harvest and earned enough to cover my family’s basic needs. I also bought some equipment to improve and expand my planting area,” he says.

Another farmer, who only used to be able to grow enough for five months, says, “Nearly a year after harvest, we still have food.”

Manuel says he is getting greater yields of improved-quality maize and has learned to dry it and protect it from pests and mold by storing it in airtight containers like water bottles. Besides maize and rice, he plants a wider variety of foods – beans, taro root, cassava, papaya – for better nutrition.

According to the program’s final report, all of the farmers who took part in the training are using one or more of the environmentally-friendly farming techniques they learned.  At the start of the program, maize yielded around 1,036 pounds per hectare (2.5 acres). Everyone met or exceeded the target of 1,343 lbs./hectare, some harvesting as much as 2,320. And, by drying and storing maize in airtight containers – instead of hanging it in unprotected sheaves outdoors – their losses to mold and pests are minimal.

Local partner staff and extension workers from the Ministry of Agriculture live and farm in the same villages as program participants, and will continue to model improved farming and storage techniques on their own land. The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to assist farmers with seed, training, moisture testing and new ideas.

Caption: Manuel’s great results from improved seed and environmentally-friendly farming

Timor Leste Viqueque Program
Led by Catholic Relief Services and Local Partner Fraterna
5 communities, 380 households, 3,268 individuals

03/02/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Catholic Farmers Make an Impact on Global Level

The following article, written by Shannon Philpott-Sanders, is shared with permission from "The Belleview Messenger," a Catholic newspaper for the Diocese of Belleview, IL.

When Fran Etter and her son Max had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador with Friends Across Borders in 2013, she didn’t know just how much the trip would impact her family.

“I was looking for more of a way to make an impact on a global level,” said Etter. “Having seen how our farming practices impact the world, I think that we have a duty to help.”

Mark and Fran Etter, parishioners at St. Felicitas in Beaver Prairie, found a way to make an impact at home.

The couple has set aside a section of their acreage for the Catholic Relief Services-partnered Foods Resource Bank and have enlisted the help of their farming neighbors Jim and Katie Buehne of St. Rose to do the same.

Etter was contacted by a Foods Resource Bank representative and she decided to look at the rural angle of global solidarity. This wasn’t her first experience with FRB, though. “I was introduced to FRB when I was a part of the Just Faith Program with partner parishes of the diocese,” she said. “I realized there are many issues globally we should be concerned about.”
“I like the idea of being involved in rural life,” said Etter. “My husband is a farmer and this is something he can be involved in, too.”

The Foods Resource Bank sponsors more than 200 U.S. growing projects, companies, organizations and volunteers to help people in developing countries grow their own food. The Etters and the Buehnes make an annual contribution of an acreage of profits each year to Catholic Relief Services, which is then funneled to the Foods Resource Bank program.

“We don’t have an official group at the moment, but I would like to encourage other farmers to get involved,” said Etter. “It takes a lot of individuals to grow this type of program, but if people spread the word, parishes and individuals may get on board to host fundraisers or encourage farmers to earmark some of their acreage.”

Etter already has plans to spread the word about the needs of the Foods Resource Bank. She will be sharing her story at an informational meeting for farmers in the diocese Feb. 10 at St. Mary’s in Mt. Vernon. The brainstorming meeting, sponsored by CRS, will focus on the farmer to farmer program and features speakers such as Etter and ag specialists.

For Etter, a teacher at Belleville West High School, the farmer to farmer program is a part of her family’s life. “It’s important work to keep me grounded and it keeps me connected to the rural lifestyle of farmers.”

01/10/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Growing Success: Land Donation to Benefit Women Farmers

More women will benefit from training through our Burkina Faso Namentenga program, thanks to a generous land donation. Community leaders agreed to donate 17 acres of communal land to develop into a training site. The site is upstream from a dam to facilitate irrigation, and will be divided into smaller parcels for the women to work and practice on. At least 120 women farmers will learn how to earn an income from market gardening.

To be more inclusive and ensure that each participant feels she is receiving the same benefits, all hands-on training must be done on a communal plot of land. It was critical to find a place everyone could agree on. After a lengthy process of meetings with the authorities of three communities, community-wide discussions, negotiations, and legal work, the original goal of 15 acres was met and exceeded. Community leaders also expressed willingness to participate in work planning. Such community buy-in promotes ownership of the entire process and creates a firm foundation for the women’s long-term success as market farmers.

The program follows Catholic Relief Services’ proven SMART Skills (Skills for Marketing and Rural Transformation) approach. SMART teaches basic skills all farmers need so that they can grow more food, market excess, and earn a sustainable income. By growing their own crops, the women will learn sound farming techniques to improve their soil, increase the quality of their produce, and manage their farms and money with good record keeping.

Photo caption: Women discuss seasonal planting schedules

Burkina Faso Namentenga Program
Led by Catholic Relief Services
73 communities, 2,620 households, 15,720 individuals

12/13/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Catholic Relief Services and Farmer to Farmer

Catholic Relief Services recently held a blog carnival surrounding the Farmer to Farmer program on their website. We want to highlight the work they are doing as one of Foods Resource Bank's parter organzations and celebrate with them in the successes of 

07/22/2014 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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