Posted on

Beekeeping in Ghana

beekeepers, Christian Aid Ministries

Peter lives in Ghana, West Africa, and is one of seven beekeepers in a SALT Agri-Plus group. Before joining the group, Peter kept his bees in a traditional clay pot hive. He had to break the clay pot to extract the honey at harvest time, destroying the bees’ colony and forcing them to re-establish their hive after every harvest.

beekeepers, Christian Aid Ministries
One of Peter’s traditional clay pot beehive.

At each monthly SALT Agri-Plus meeting, Peter and the other members receive practical teaching on beekeeping. They learn how to harvest honey using specially designed concrete hives made by a local mason. Throughout each practical lesson, the SALT facilitators also weave Biblical truth.

Implementing this Agri-Plus training enables Peter to harvest twice as much honey as before, while preserving the bee colony. Because the honey is cleaner, its sales value is also higher. These changes are possible because of your support and interest. Thank you!

To help support the SALT Agri-Plus program program, please click the button below to give a gift.


Donate

Posted on

Fruitful gardens for refugees

Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, Christian Aid Minstries

Chesa* lived in a bamboo and tarp hut along a barren hillside. She arrived at the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh in 2018 with few belongings and no place to call home. Her dismal surroundings offered little hope for a brighter future.

In 2020, Chesa joined the SALT Agri-Plus group that began holding meetings in her area. The hands-on agricultural lessons at the meetings taught her how to make and apply compost to her garden plants. Chesa also learned techniques such as erosion control to help increase her garden yields.

The Biblical teachings given at the SALT meetings spoke to Chesa’s soul. We pray that SALT Agri-Plus will inspire Chesa and other refugees to bear abundant spiritual fruit. God bless you, supporters, for making it possible to reach out to refugees in Bangladesh.

*Name changed to protect identity.

To help support the SALT Agri-Plus program, please click the button below to give a gift.


Donate

Posted on

Sowing seeds in Ghana through SALT Agri-Plus

Sowing seeds

In Ghana, West Africa, SALT Agri-Plus staff members are teaching Ghanaians improved ways of sowing seeds and farming by using natural materials to cultivate their land and reduce erosion. Each agricultural lesson is based on Scripture. Biblical principles help reveal practical truths that clients can apply in everyday life.

Solomon, a SALT Agri-Plus client in Ghana, tells what he has learned through the program. “Before our soil management training lesson on compost, I didn’t know we could make our own fertilizers for our farms. The only thing I knew was to buy expensive chemical inputs. Now we’ve learned to use many resources around us to make good fertilizers for our farms.” He continues, “I never knew how important insects are for our crops’ pollination. Through our training, I learned much about how plants are pollinated.”

Posted on

An increased harvest brings thanks to God

increased harvest, Christian Aid Ministries

Like many Haitians, Laurent and his family struggled to make a living by farming the country’s barren hills. The stony soil and poor bean seed quality produced small harvests.increased harvest, Christian Aid Ministries

Laurent joined a SALT Agri-Plus group in his community, where he was introduced to a new variety of beans. Hearing about the beans’ high quality and hoping for increased harvest, he decided to plant them.

The increased harvest of these beans helped Laurent pay for his children’s education. Today one of his children is an engineer and another is an agronomist. Laurent says the beans from Agri-Plus played an important role in helping his children achieve these careers. “Thank you, God!” he exclaims.

Posted on

Reviving fields and touching hearts through Agri-Plus

Reviving fields, Agri-Plus

Farmers in poverty-stricken countries often struggle to exist on small pieces of land. Despite adequate resources, farmers often lack the knowledge and training needed for reviving fields to raise good crops to sufficiently provide for their families.

The vision of Agri-Plus is to walk alongside these farmers and help them discover ways to better provide for their families. Along with this, we are able to teach clients how to follow Jesus in everyday life. We also have many opportunities to share the Gospel with unbelievers in SALT Agri-Plus groups.

Let’s take a tour across the globe and look at the places where Agri-Plus is operating.
Haiti:

Rural mountain farmers struggle to survive on extremely eroded farmland in Haiti. Deforestation and unsustainable practices brought this once fertile farmland to the brink of barrenness. After every rain, farmers despairingly watch their source of livelihood —the soil— wash out into the ocean. Agri-Plus teaches farmers to protect their topsoil by planting trees and contoured hedges of vetiver grass. They are also learning the value of mulching.

Reviving fields, Agri-Plus
Rural mountain farmers struggle to survive on extremely eroded farmland in Haiti.

The Agri-Plus meetings provide many opportunities to teach practical Christian living. One farmer said, “In Agri-Plus they have taught us to always give God the first place in everything we do.” May God receive glory for all the good that is happening in the fields and hearts of Haitians.

Ghana:

Life in this African country can be harsh and difficult. The six-month dry season usually ends with much hunger. Food supplies are typically depleted and many farmers go into debt to buy overpriced grain to keep feeding their families. Grain is traditionally stored in woven grass huts where insects and rodents can easily destroy the precious grain supply. This escalates the needs during the “hunger season.”

Agri-Plus developed an airtight metal grain bin to hold forty to sixty bushels of grain safely throughout the dry season. Local craftsmen build these bins using traditional methods instead of welders and power tools. Farmers are organized into groups and store their grain collectively. Together they pay for the cost of the grain bins.

Someone from a remote village stated that these grain bins are the best things to overcome poverty in their community. Recently, when the group members were filling the bins, they praised God and rejoiced at the blessings He provided through this method of storage.

Agri-Plus also has several demonstration plots in Ghana to promote the value of crop residue and mulching.

Bangladesh:

Three years ago the Rohingya people were brutally driven out of their homeland of Myanmar and settled in a refugee camp in the mountains of southern Bangladesh. In late 2019, Agri-Plus started working in the camp to teach hillside gardening. The goal was for each family to be able to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

Reviving fields, Agri-Plus
A young Rohingya boy learns about the value of composting from SALT Agri-Plus workers.

COVID-19 shut down all Agri-Plus activity in the camp during 2020. But recently the Agri-Plus groups started operating again, teaching the refugees how to make and use compost. Other things they will be learning are soil health, erosion control, and seed saving. Meeting with these groups of refugees allows Agri-Plus staff to regularly present the teachings of Jesus Christ to those who had little opportunity to learn about Him before.

May God be glorified as His name is lifted up in remote areas throughout the nations.

Posted on

Agricultural and spiritual growth

agricultural, Christian Aid Ministries

Peterson* sat with a group of other Haitian farmers in their Agri-Plus meeting. They were learning ways to increase yields and make better use of their agricultural land. But Peterson was not only thinking of ways to improve his farm. As he listened to the group leader teach from Matthew 6, spiritual seeds began taking root in his heart.

Peterson had never been to church, and his knowledge of the Gospel was limited. But he realized he was not right with God and asked the group leader if they could pray. On his knees, Peterson repented and committed to following Jesus. Pray that the spiritual seeds he received will continue to grow and that he will be faithful in his walk with the Lord.

The main vision of SALT Agri-Plus is to share the Gospel with people, many of whom know little about what walking with Jesus really means. Each Agri-Plus meeting begins with Biblical instruction and prayer, then moves into agricultural teaching.

*Name changed to protect identity.

Posted on

Three-Fold to Fifteen-Fold

Agri-Plus, Christian Aid Ministries

According to God’s mandate in Deuteronomy 8:3, people shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God. Thus, we are to live by bread, but we are also to live by the Word of God. When these two things are combined for the agriculturist in an intentional way, it leads to all kinds of exciting opportunities, discoveries, and adventures.”*

In Haiti, we are excited to find ways to share the Bread of Life with farmers while finding ways to fill the hungry farmer’s empty dinner pail.

As our Agri-Plus technician Edmond says, “I used to be happy with a three-fold harvest, but now I look for ways to increase my yields every year.” At one point Edmond was so discouraged with the unprofitability of farming that he quit farming his land in the mountains and went to changing money at the border. But after attending SALT Agri-Plus teaching meetings, he saw there still is potential in farming. He is now trying to get fifteen-fold yields on his black beans while most farmers are still happy with three-fold yields.

Edmond passionately works to find ways to bring the soil back to life. It was after we saw him trying things on his own that we hired him as a SALT Agri-Plus technician. He tirelessly experiments and pleads with farmers to change their practices that degrade the soil.

The recent growing season was a powerful testimony. It rained on March 12, and Edmond planted his beans on March 24. For two months, no rain came. All the land surrounding Edmondʼs is now 100 percent crop failure, while his own land is green. Edmond will have beans to harvest despite the lack of rain! It will not be fifteen-fold, but it will be a harvest in the middle of a drought. This is because Edmond applied principles he learned through Agri-Plus. Three years ago, Edmond planted vetiver grass hedges for erosion control, which built up his topsoil. Unlike the traditional farming method in Haiti, Edmond doesn’t burn the crop residue. He also discovered the value of covering the soil with mulch to retain moisture and enrich the soil.

Edmond is excited about farming to the glory of God. He deeply appreciates that SALT Agri-Plus focuses on teaching about people’s relationship with God. His goal is to find ways to make farming more profitable, so that when the farming families are no longer hungry, they will praise God!

Edmond likes this quote from Don Elias Sanchez of Honduras, “If the mind of a campesino (a peasant farmer) is a desert, his farm will look like a desert.” The real goal of Agri-Plus in Haiti is to change the way farmers think about farming. This will not happen quickly or easily, so we must commit to being a long-term agent of change.

Edmond gives God all the glory. He is a living, walking preacher of creation care and desires to do things God’s way in all areas of life.

Note: We recently received word that Edmond is struggling with ongoing health issues. Join us in praying for him!

—Mike Martin, SALT Agri-Plus staff member in Haiti

*Ten Biblical Principles for Agricultural Development, David Evans, August 20, 2013

Posted on

SALT Agri-Plus Program Brings Opportunity for Refugees

SALT Agri-Plus Program

Anowara* is a twenty-seven-year-old widow living in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. Before she arrived at the camp, her husband was killed by the military during the uprising in Myanmar against the Rohingya people. Hopeless and alone, she fled her country with her two-year-old son.

When the SALT Agri-Plus program started in Anowora’s camp, it provided her with the opportunity to support herself. Instead of completely depending on others for all her food, she is now able to raise vegetables and fruits in her garden plot. Now she has food for herself and her young son, and she can sell or share the surplus produce.

SALT Agri-Plus Program
Before
SALT Agri-Plus Program
After

Anowara meets regularly with her fellow Agri-Plus group members to learn how to care for her hillside garden. She did not come from a farming family, so the instructions about planting, soil conservation, fertilizing, and seed saving and storing are very helpful. But best of all, the Biblical truths she receives at these meetings are planting seeds that can produce fruits of far greater and eternal value.SALT Agri-Plus Program, Christian Aid Ministries

Today, God is using the SALT Agri-Plus program to give Anowara a new hope and opportunity.

Posted on

New Agri-Plus Project Brings Opportunity to Rohingya Refugees

What was once Bangladesh’s only wild game reserve forest is now home to the largest refugee camp in the world. The Rohingya people fled senseless violence and pillaging of their villages in
Myanmar and made their homes in this forested area in Bangladesh. In less than a year, the refugee settlement grew to over a million inhabitants.

This once beautiful tropical forest was quickly transformed into a barren landscape. Trees are cut down for shelters. Brush and shrubs are being used as firewood for cooking. Even tree roots are dug up and dried for firewood. With few plants to hold the soil in place, the annual monsoon rains bring mudslides and erosion that add to the trials and despair of the refugees. Life in this setting feels hopeless.

Agri-Plus program launches in Bangladesh

To help Rohingya refugees find ways to provide food for themselves, we recently launched the SALT Agri-Plus program in Bangladesh. Officials in the refugee camp gave SALT Agri-Plus facilitators permission to help refugees begin the monumental work of transforming barren camp neighborhoods into green garden spaces.

SALT’s goal is to help each participating family develop their own garden and fruit orchard. The Bangladeshi government and other relief organizations provide basic food items like rice and cooking oil for the refugees. But this diet is largely deficient in nutritional foods like fruits, vegetables, and greens.

Agri-Plus staff organize refugee families into work groups. The groups work together to prepare and plant the land allotted to them by camp officials. Each group meets monthly to receive teaching on the best practices of planting hillside gardens. They learn about erosion control, natural pest management, and seed saving and storage.

At their first meeting, we provided them with a one-time gift of seeds, tree seedlings, and cow manure to get the project started. In two years, each family should have a completely sustainable garden that needs no outside input.

Along with the practical agricultural teaching at the meetings, Agri-Plus facilitators teach Biblical concepts such as creation care, stewardship, and loving and caring for each other. Most importantly, they teach about the true Giver and Sustainer of all life. This type of teaching is the core vision of the Agri-Plus program.

Having faced huge challenges and dismal surroundings, the refugee families are thankful for the opportunity to start their own gardens. We pray that Agri-Plus will offer one of many steps to bring long-term recovery to these suffering people.

Posted on

Farmers find a way out of hunger

hunger

The SALT Agri-Plus program is helping farmers in developing countries find a way out of hunger. Agri-Plus staff in Haiti and Ghana walk alongside farmers, learn about their challenges, and work with them to discover better farming methods

Many people in these countries rely on a small patch of soil to provide food for their families. Their sustenance for the year hinges on their crops. But many struggle with poor yields, soil erosion, and crop failure. Even if their crops yield, they don’t have a good place to store their grain until they need it. Our goal is to help farmers find solutions to these problems so they can better provide for their families.

Food for difficult time between harvests

Nakol’s family was hungry most of the time from May to July. Sometimes the only thing they had to eat was a thin soup made of dried okra or chili peppers. Agri-Plus teaching on improved farming techniques and better storage methods has made a huge difference for Nakol and her family. Now they have food to carry them through this difficult time of the year between harvests.

An ox or a tractor?

Joseph wanted a way to plow his farmland but was unable to afford a tractor. If he could have acquired one, it would have been difficult and costly for him to maintain it in his cultural setting. Instead, Joseph decided to work toward buying oxen for plowing. He and his wife became members of a SALT savings group and started saving to buy an ox. SALT staff walked alongside them and encouraged them in their venture. “Today it is with joy that my wife and I have one ox,” said Joseph. “We want to thank SALT for this wonderful opportunity.”

Interestingly, agricultural research is showing that Africa’s arid soil structure is far better suited for shallow plowing with oxen or other animals as opposed to deep plowing with tractors. An ox is better in this setting and is also far more within reach than a costly tractor.

“It is a very real possibility that [SALT] is on track to break the chain of poverty here,” says one Ghanaian farmer. He, along with thousands of other farmers in Haiti and Ghana, are excited about the results they are seeing! They are discovering better ways to conserve their soil, their yields are increasing, and their families have food to eat.