KEEPING THE PROMISE TO THE KAFUBU VALLEY
Keeping promises made to constituents is a challenge faced by politicians, by artists to patrons, and by companies to consumers. But it is not a challenge confronting the organizers of Break the Near-starvation Cycle for Congolese Farmers. Members of the Congolese NGO CTD, which oversees the work to break the near-starvation cycle among farmers in the Kafubu Valley of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have not only kept their original promise to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor; they have taught the people how to lift themselves far beyond their modest dreams.
Four years ago, agronomists taught farm families how to lay out and prepare their fields for optimal production. Families were supplied with excellent corn seed, certified for the highlands south of the equator. Fertilizer was distributed. Skills, common to experienced farmers in developed countries, were taught to the families. The results were astounding! A 400% increase in corn production was achieved. Starvation no longer threatened the five villages in the Kafubu Valley. Families learned how to package and sell surplus corn. Extra money was used to repair roofs, build better homes of homemade clay bricks, repay loans, and pay tuition enabling children to attend school.
However, a longer than usual dry season the second year prevented the corn seedlings from growing strong before the heavy rains descended. Exceptionally powerful rains washed many of the small plants away. Would this lead to another cycle of near-starvation? No! The volunteer agronomists helped the families plant cabbage, beans, and other marketable vegetables. Again, the volunteers showed the families how to grow and sell the extra produce and keep the remaining corn plants growing until harvest. They learned many more farming skills that year and survived the terrible weather.
These new horticulture skills will change the lives of these people for generations to come. No longer will they be victims of bad weather, insect invasions, poor seed, and a limited diet. They are becoming self-reliant, teaching each other agriculture skills, and providing for their families with dignity and hope.
Your donations pay for the seed, fertilizer, equipment (shovels, bags for produce, etc.), transportation to market, and gasoline for the volunteer agronomist’s motor bikes. An extra beautiful blessing---hoped for in the original plan, but not guaranteed---a very high percentage of the farmers are paying back for the seed and fertilizer and equipment! This, added to your donations, enable the volunteers to expand the program. We are preparing for the fourth planting season. Whatever the weather brings, these families have the skills to not only survive, but THRIVE! A promise is kept.
In the second year of a world-wide pandemic, it is a joy to write about living, growing, and thriving things. Yes, Covid-19 has reached the Kafubu Valley, with deaths in Mwenda Village and Kawama Village. But the focus of the people is on the growing crops.
The fieldwork is progressing well. Nitrogen fertilizer has been applied to the corn plants. The seeds for cabbage, okra, and aubergine (eggplant), to be sold in the public markets, were distributed to each family in the villages. After training by the agronomists on how to grow quality vegetables for public markets, or market gardening, each family carefully sowed their seeds. These more fragile crops will be tended with great care.
This is a new type of farming, or gardening, for the villagers. The quality and appearance of the market vegetables matter more than food grown just for private consumption. The varieties of seeds are chosen to appeal to city shoppers. This has not been a consideration in the past, but the villagers are learning about business and marketing in addition to farming.
The influence of the professionally trained agronomists is noticeable throughout the valley. The corn grows thicker, higher, with much larger cobs than in the past. Now, new vegetables augment the extremely limited diet of the villagers. Sales of some of those new vegetables are bringing in cash. And best of all, parents can afford school fees. That is changing future generations!
These marvelous changes are because YOU, our donors, are paying for the agronomists, quality seed, and fertilizer. YOU are making a difference in the Kafubu Valley every single day. Thank you!
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BEAUTIFUL
This report is from a recent letter from Jacques Mwinkeu, Chief Agronomist with CTD, our Congolese NGO, in his own words. Mwinkeu is also the local director and lead agronomist for Break Near-starvation Cycle for Congolese Farmers. Especially note the final comment from Mr. Mwinkeu. This success is due to YOU. Thank you for your continued support.
Good news from the Kafubu Valley of Democratic Republic of Congo
“Sixty-one families were supervised in 2020. There have been eleven new families entering the program in 2021. Twenty-eight families are run by women (widows and divorced). Thirty-four new hectares of corn and six of cabbage and other vegetables.
“In 2019, 61 families had repaid their loans, and 26 families partially repaid. Zero families have not repaid in 2019.”
Bad news from Lubumbashi, the second largest city in DRC, near Kafubu Valley
“The malady of Covid-19 has taken over forcefully here at home. The schools are closed. There is curfew decreed throughout the country, so there is no traffic from 8:00PM. Three days ago, our city of Lubumbashi was on alert, following a threat of attack of armed secessionist militiamen from Bakata Katanga. In addition to that, there are many cases of armed robbery and night burglary followed by assassinations this past time in Lubumbashi.”
Beautiful news from the Kafubu Valley of Democratic Republic of Congo
“As far as our work to note, we distributed the fertilizers and corn seed of hybrid variety 604. Currently everyone is in the application phase of Npk fertilizer because the seeding was done without fertilizer. All the time, outside the maize growing program, we will make a large vegetable growing program with the villagers from March, according to their demands because the vegetable crops are making a lot of money compared to maize. These villagers have mastered the farming technique we teach.”
CREATING A NEW NORMAL
For the entire world 2020 has been a year like no other. By most metrics, people are far worse off today than they were in October 2019 or 2018 or 2017. Filled with dread and discouragement, people struggle to cope with the NEW NORMAL.
However in the remote, poverty-stricken Kafubu valley in chaotic Democratic Republic of Congo, the NEW NORMAL looks pretty good.
School attendance is up as parents are able to afford the monthly tuition payments. Attending school is a NEW NORMAL
Elective surgeries were never an option, but basic health care is now affordable. Affording any health care is a NEW NORMAL.
Working at home in a country with over 90% unemployment in the past, and even higher unemployment due to pandemic related lockdowns, is the old normal. Having hope that the seasonal farm work will yield an income is a NEW NORMAL.
Food insecurity---a western word for near-starvation---was the normal for generations in the Kafubu Valley. Now, through education in best farm practices, quality hybrid seed, and fertilizer, a predictable and sufficient harvest is the NEW NORMAL.
Obviously, the pandemic did not create the NEW NORMAL. YOU DID!
Through your contributions to “Break the Near-starvation Cycle for Congolese Farmers,” you are helping one family at a time in the Kafubu valley create their own NEW NORMAL.
Your donations support CTD, a charity organized by Congolese professionals 25 years ago and entirely managed by Congolese, which teaches farm families best farm practices and provides quality seed and fertilizer to each family. Based upon the principle of self-reliance, farmers feed their families, repay the initial investment, save seed for planting, and sell the surplus to pay for school, healthcare, and other necessities.
Funded by your donations, this NEW NORMAL is spreading self-sufficiency and self-reliance in Democratic Republis of Congo.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this NEW NORMAL could spread throughout the world!
CTD Calmly Continuing to Create Change Amid Worldwide Chaos
With our chaotic first world country troubled by protests, economic shutdowns, and a pandemic, living in a quiet village located in a green mountain valley just 2 hours from a bustling city of over a million people with temperature similar to Hawaii sounds ideal.
Our peaceful valley has no people protesting anything; the near-by armed soldiers tolerate no negative speech.
Our beautiful valley has no business/economic shutdowns; there is almost no money---therefore few businesses exist.
In this quiet valley, threat of a world-wide pandemic is unimportant; normal food-insecurity, known as near-starvation, is a common, yearly danger.
Opps! A different picture. Our perfect valley needs to be rescued!
Thanks to you and your donations to CTD, the Kafubu Valley is being rescued! The armed soldiers are still in control and economic activity as we know it is still non-existent, but you are obliterating the threat of starvation!
*Over 150 families have benefited directly from CTD’s 4 objectives: top quality seed bred specifically for higher elevations, fertilizer, insecticide, and training in best farm practices from professional agronomists. Their harvests average a 400% increase over the past years!
*Trained farmers teach their neighbors best farming practices, helping everyone in the five local tribes. (A rising tide lifts all ships; an educated people teach their neighbors.)
*About 50% of project-benefited families have totally repaid their share of the costs. Others are repaying, but at a slower rate.
*Extreme flooding soon after the November 2019 planting destroyed some of the young corn plants. Normally this devastation would mean near-starvation again. Through CTD, families were provided with seed for alternative crops with a shorter growing season, such as beans and cabbage.
*The school, which in not funded by the government, has many more students because parents can afford the minimal tuition. Such a blessing for the younger generation!
*Wonderful recurring donors mean CTD’s team can meet ongoing expenses during the entire growing year.
Even in these chaotic times, CTD continues to calmly create change for the people in our beautiful Kafubu Valley. Thank you!
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