food security

FRB Mourns Passing of Founding Member Vernon Sloan

With great sadness FRB announces the passing of one of our founders, Vernon Sloan. He peacefully entered eternal rest on October 7 at his home in Stryker, Ohio after battling a long illness. He was 91.

A fourth-generation farmer, Vernon considered it his mission to feed people. He dedicated both his farm and life to doing just that. In 1999, Vernon and his wife Carol founded FRB along with several agricultural business leaders and Christian organizations that fund and run international food security programs. Since then, FRB has helped over 1 million people in developing countries become food secure. Vernon’s legacy continues as we work to reach the Next 1 Million through agricultural training and development programs in 30 countries.

“He was a soft-spoken, yet well respected leader in his community who cared deeply for the world’s hungry,” says FRB CEO Marv Baldwin. “Vernon voluntarily served on our board for years and his vision, compassion, and faith will continue to guide us. His memory is a blessing.”

Visitation will be from 2-6 p.m. Friday, October 13 at the Stryker United Methodist Church, with a memorial service at 6:30 p.m. Fellowship time with family will immedialty follow the memorial service. Arrangements are by the Grisier Funeral Home.

Follow this link for more details on Vernon’s remarkable faith and service-filled life, including as a U.S. Army veteran and founder and past president of the Williams County Pork Producers, the Williams County Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Williams County 4-H Endowment Committee.

10/09/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Lives Bloom with Mushrooms

Where they once had to face hunger months and mounting debt, Ngor and her family have experienced a complete change of fortune by growing mushrooms through the Cambodia East program. “I am grateful for the chance to improve my family’s life,” Ngor says.

Before this opportunity, the family scraped by on the rice and cassava they grew in a small field. When food and money grew scarce before the next harvest, Sron, Ngor’s husband, would migrate to distant towns to find work. Ngor and her three children would often subsist on snails and crabs they found in the rice field. The couple was unable to pay for their children’s schooling, and if anyone became ill they could not afford treatment. During times of crisis, they got into debt by borrowing money at high interest rates.

Fortunately, the program offered them a chance to turn their lives around. In addition to becoming a mushroom farmer, Ngor belongs to a women’s Self Help Group whose members support each other and save money together. She and Sron have earned enough to buy seedlings for a variety of crops, build storage for raw materials for their operations, get electricity in their house, and get their children back in school.  The family’s long-range plan is to buy a small truck and motorbike, drill a well, and build a toilet.

While the program was originally intended to help women find a sustainable source of income, it has ended up increasing the standard of living for the entire area. In fact, growing mushrooms is providing such steady money, and there is so much work available, that most husbands no longer need to migrate.  

Participants learn from program staff and local mentors how to build mushroom houses and grow the fungi, which is in high demand in their country. Thera Metrey, a company formed by World Hope International, purchases mushrooms from participants at a fair price and transports them to the wholesale market in Phnom Penh.  The program also helps participants learn to sort and grade their produce, and is seeking alternate markets for products that were previously seen as worthless, such as small mushrooms.

Caption: Ngor and family in front of their mushroom house

Cambodia East Program
Led by World Hope International
5 communities, 1,100 households, 5,500 individuals

03/15/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Forging Ahead Despite Challenges

Despite multiple challenges in post-conflict South Sudan, local staff has been hard at work training farm extension agents and health technicians to ready farmers and their families for better days. The civil war has ended, yet there continue to be security and infrastructure issues. The remoteness of the area means that people are not in direct danger from residual conflict, but also that basic services are lacking, including phone communications. Recent heavy rains brought flooding, and widespread illiteracy makes training much more difficult. Yet much has been accomplished.

The focus is particularly on women farmers – the backbones of the community. They need to get up to speed quickly on the most effective ways to manage their crops, vegetables, and homes.  Health extension workers have trained “hygiene promoters” to distribute supplies and show women how to treat both well water and river water. Families received soap and instruction on the importance of handwashing.

Agricultural extension workers also identified training needs and mobilized farmer groups to attend training sessions at demonstration plots.  They’ve taught basic principles of crop husbandry and growing vegetables. Because these farmers are starting out new, it has been necessary to distribute seeds and basic farming tools. Farmers are now concentrating on planting okra.

While challenges seem to be vast, it is clear that the will of local partner staff is strong. FRB’s implementing organization, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is confident that the agriculture and health extension training is laying the groundwork for success for these people as they return to normalcy following the war. Your support and prayers are much needed and greatly appreciated.

Caption: Farmer groups during agricultural training

South Sudan Uror Program
Led by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
1 community, 400 households, 2,800 individuals


03/13/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

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

Getting Creative

María Francisca’s sales of her handmade soaps and hair gels may have started out modestly, but some small-business training has helped her take them to the next level. She initially sold what she made to neighbor women. Word-of-mouth advertising reached a beauty salon in a nearby town which now stocks her products. As a single mother of five, she’s grateful for the additional income.

Since many men in these indigenous Maya Mam communities have migrated for work, local partner CIEDEG staff prioritizes women, food security, and income opportunities as they develop programs. Kitchen gardens are popping up everywhere thanks to training on growing vegetables. If there’s any extra to sell, the women use what they earn to buy school supplies or to cover household expenses.

Women’s groups, or Sociedades Femininas, often meet in churches to share their experiences, organize, or receive training. A workshop on nutrition and creative cooking led to experimentation: radish leaves in omelets, anyone?

Besides María Francisca, other entrepreneurs have felt encouraged to act on their great ideas. Lucía and her sister started a small grocery store in the front room of their home. And three sisters – Juana, Catarina and Santa – have capitalized on their cooking skills to open a small restaurant. In addition to coffee, smoothies, and standard-fare meals, Juana makes chocolate-dipped bananas and, her own inspiration, chocolate-dipped orange slices.

Photo caption: María Francisca shows her wares
Credit: Bethany Beachum, CWS

Guatemala Nebaj-Quetzaltenango Program
Led by Church World Service and local partner CIEDEG
20 Communities, 771 households, 3,855 individuals

02/08/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Sturdy Construction, Risk Reduction

When natural disaster strikes and homes and crops get damaged or destroyed, Haitian farmers often have to resort to eating the seed they’d saved for the next planting season or sell off any surviving livestock to pay expenses.  Both lead to more hunger in the months following the catastrophe. To improve their level of preparedness, members of all nine farmer cooperatives received training in managing risks and building sturdy homes, latrines and animal enclosures.  

Having a sound plan and strong structures reduces loss of life and serves to strengthen food security in the face of Haiti’s frequent hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. When people understand and follow the building code they’re more able to withstand the country’s inevitable emergencies without having to start over again each time. One cooperative member said, “I give God thanks because this training protects people’s lives.”

People generally build their own homes, mud-and-stick structures without foundations, so the training sessions start by reviewing the need for digging a foundation, using rebar, and mixing cement to form concrete blocks. The co-ops buy materials in bulk to lower the cost to members, and offer loans and discounts as well, to encourage participation. When families are ready to build, engineers from Church World Service are there to supervise.

Roger, another coop member, said, “Now we don’t need to be afraid anymore, with the work the engineers do.”

Photo caption: Explaining reinforced concrete construction

Haiti Northwest Program
Led by Church World Service and SKDE
10 communities, 6,000 households, 21,000 individuals

01/22/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

A "Crazy" Idea Reaps Great Improvements

Once Victor started re-purposing cast-off plastic bottles as mini grain-storage bins, as suggested by FRB’s local partner ACJ from our Nicaragua Boaco program, he saw more than just a few benefits. He explains:

“If you want to have enough food for your family, you’ve got to have a good way to store what you grow. I used to pile up my corncobs with the husks still on and just threw a pesticide on them. It was easy and protected them from weevils.

“When I first started collecting pop bottles my wife, Lucrecia, thought I was crazy! She thought I’d never have enough, but my neighbors gave me their old bottles. You can fit six pounds of grain in each bottle. Before long I’d managed to store 400 pounds of corn and beans!

“After six months, Lucrecia and I checked them: sure enough, no weevils. When she saw how the beans cooked up as soft as if they were newly harvested, she was sold on the idea. Now she helps me collect used bottles!

“There are so many good reasons to use old bottles to store my grain. We don’t have to spend money on chemicals. It’s no more work than what I used to do, but it’s safer and healthier. I don’t have to buy seed for planting, and I even have leftover seed to sell. There’s never any shortage of used plastic bottles, and people usually just throw them out.  So using them even cleans up the environment. I’ve taught my friends and neighbors how to keep their grains like this, too. I’m proud to have learned the technique and proud to have shared it. God helps those who help themselves!”

Photo caption: Beans and corn, not pop, in those bottles

Led by World Renew and Local Partner Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes de Nicaragua (ACJ)
8 communities, 201 households, 860 individuals

11/28/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Every Family has a Story of Struggle and Triumph

FRB’s local partner CASM says, “When you see tables in reports about program progress, you just see numbers of participants -- this many men, this many women, this many children. We never forget that each number represents a person or a family, each family or individual is unique, and each one has a story of struggles and triumphs.”

Take Doña María, for example. Yes, she counts as a program participant, but she is also a valued leader in her community. She is always motivating other women to try new things like energy-efficient stoves, organizing a training event on vegetable gardens, or attending a reforestation rally or a nutrition workshop. She is a highly motivated person who always thinks about others first. At the same time, she is a widow caring for three grandchildren aged 12, 9, and 7 since their mothers migrated to the city looking for jobs.

The program includes supporting rural families in improving the sanitation, health and hygiene condition in their homes. María has helped many neighbors’ families get access to a stove, cement flooring, or latrines.  Her neighbors encouraged her to be a recipient as well.

Said María on the day materials for her latrine were delivered, “This is a day of great joy for us who live in a village forgotten by the authorities but supported by FRB.  We are happy because in one week we will build our latrines. We invite you to come into our homes to show you how this program has supported our families and changed our lives for the better.  We thank you very much."

Honduras Nueva Frontera program
Led by Church World Service and local partner CASM
14 Communities, 626 Households, 3,130 Individuals

Story and photo courtesy Church World Service

10/23/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Mushrooming Success for Cambodian Farmers

Channy and Chantol, a young Cambodian couple, have seen many changes over the last few years, all thanks to a fungus.  They were among the first to adopt mushroom growing when World Hope began working in their village three years ago.  “We were skeptical at first, said Channy, “so we just built a small mushroom house to test it out.”  After realizing how beneficial mushrooms could be, they built a second, larger structure and their parents built two structures as well.
The couple works hard, and has become skillful mushroom growers.  Although they typically average an income of $300 per month, they have earned as much as $1,000 in a month from mushrooms alone.  This is especially impressive considering that the GDP per capita in Cambodia is $1,159.   On the off days between planting and harvest, Channy sells sugarcane juice for additional income.

As a result of their efforts, the couple has been able to purchase a motorbike, buy land, and build a new house. They are also raising chickens and ducks, and eating higher-quality food now, given their improved income. Their mushroom houses are still behind their parents’ home, but they plan to build additional structures on their own property soon. 

Although Channy and Chantol are in many ways model mushroom farmers, their success has not come without challenges.  Their parents recently filled in the land in front of their home, so when it rains hard, the water flows downhill into the mushroom house, bringing with it debris that can damage the growing crop.  In addition, now that others are also growing mushrooms, the necessary materials (rice straw and mung-bean pods) that were once readily available and free, are becoming very valuable and hard to find.

Cambodia East program
Led by World Hope
3 Communities, 340 Households, 1,700 Individuals

10/13/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Food for Thought

These wise “Ten Commandments of Food” were developed by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and the World Council of Churches to address the existential challenge of hunger and inequity in an innovative and spiritually engaging manner.

12/14/2016 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
Syndicate content