As a team working for holistic transformation among farmers in North Africa, the challenge is to find practices and solutions that will prove sustainable and lasting. During a season of scarcity, when addressing challenges in the short-term proves complex and difficult, it has been easy to question what, if any, difference our work is making.
It’s been 3 years since our local organization sent a letter to authorities, elucidating the ever-increasing problem of farmers’ access to seed each successive planting season and asking for action in planning strategic and sustainable solutions.
The letter was sent in cooperation with other local non-profit organizations and institutions focused on agronomy, environmental stewardship, and scientific research. Little to no response was forth-coming, and soon the onslaught of Covid, followed by multiple political transitions and an extremely long, hot, dry summer, intervened to steal away what little attention may have been garnered by the letter’s appeal for action.
Delayed rains have only complicated planning and planting this season.
And the warnings issued 3 years ago have seen their fulfillment as farmers have been unable to purchase seed for their traditional grain crops or the legume crops we’ve encouraged them to grow to help deal with the drought and forage shortages.
The irony of the situation is that the cereal crops of this country are some of its major exports to neighbors and other parts of the world. Our focus this season has been helping small-holder farmers locate and afford the very grain they’ve grown century after century throughout history, purchasing imported seed for crops they have always sent abroad.
A cycle of futility? A downward spiral of ineffectiveness?
After years of promoting seed mixes among our efforts to combat water shortages and soil degradation and to help farmers increase their harvests, it’s been easy to feel we are simply twisting in the wind this season, turning this way and that in our attempts to link farmers with sustainable solutions to seemingly unanswerable issues.
Questions of productivity and long-term efficacy begin to sneak in.
Suddenly, a flame of hope flares up in the void!
An unexpected phone call with a farmer reveals a seed source! In the past, we’ve walked with him through techniques for increasing his harvests and multiplying his own seed, hoping to help him move toward more self-sufficiency in his farming.
Now, in this season of scarcity, he casually mentions that he has enough seeds not only to plant his own crop but to offer seeds to us as a source for others!
Our efforts have not been in vain.
What went into the soil of this farmer’s learning in a past season has yielded a harvest both intellectual and physical. God has multiplied our efforts and his harvest.
Reanimated by this small candle of promise, we take hope that not only food for the body but seeds for long-term, sustainable nourishment of mind and spirit are maturing in the quiet corners of our endeavors.
Despite an apparent lack of cooperation or understanding in the upper echelons of power and authority, it is God, at the highest level, who produces the ultimate harvest!
"Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness." (2 Cor. 9:10)
About the Author: Kimberly is an IDEAS Associate and agricultural specialist. She works alongside local farmers in rural North Africa, giving them access to resources, techniques, information and hope. Enjoy other blogs by Kimberly, such as Compost: Transformation Accomplished.