Multiplication: The Arithmetic of Sustainable Agriculture
A harvest of honey…the humble soybean…a fast-growing tree…
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has introduced some new methods of farming in impoverished areas of Africa through its Sustainable Agriculture and Development program.
These techniques are transforming communities with poor nutritional standards to thriving centers of crop production, market goods, and family income. The calculus of sustainable agriculture is multiplication. Crops and better nutrition aren't the only benefits.
A Harvest of Honey
Benefits come in layers. Consider one element of sustainable agriculture as taught by UMCOR trainers: beekeeping. Long shunned in part because of their association with witchcraft, bees are a new source of food in Sierra Leone.
Beekeepers affirm that the cultivated honey tastes better than that taken in the wild. But food is only one of the many tangible products the new beekeepers can realize.
Beeswax-- Can be used to create batik textiles in marketable quantities.
Propolis-- The glue bees collect from certain tree buds can be used in construction of furniture to sell in the local markets.
Honey-- Potential uses include salve, cough syrup when mixed with garlic, and asthma relief.
Each year, at least 3,300 persons benefit from UMCOR's Sustainable Agriculture and Development program, either directly as newly transformed farmers or as people who have heard of the new methods by word of mouth.
More than half of the beneficiaries are women. Sixty percent of the participants in direct training teach the new methods to their friends.
UMCOR has programs in eight countries so far:
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Sierra Leone