Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pascal Gbaglo - Agriculture Knowledge Is a Transforming Power

Pascal Gbaglo is a farmer in Hévié, Benin. Life has always been a struggle for him and his family.
For years, Pascal has farmed using traditional West African methods of planting, slashing, and burning the land. His crops have always been minimal, barely enough to feed his family of seven. Sometimes they failed completely. His family did not want to work the land with him because it often produced nothing.

In May, he was standing outside of his home when he saw a line of Mercy Ships vehicles driving through Hévié. He discovered that Mercy Ships and Bethesda, a local NGO (non-governmental organization), were starting an agriculture training program in Hévié. Wanting to learn more about farming, he asked to join the program. Although it was already filled to capacity, Pascal was allowed to stay.

Excited, he began attending every class. The agriculture training program, "Food For Life," teaches biblical organic farming principles, which focus on being a good steward of the land. Pascal began incorporating these principles into his farming practices at home. In a very short time, he noticed something - his crops were growing! And they were growing faster, fuller, and in a much larger quantity. Before long, not only was he producing enough food to feed his family, but he had a surplus of crops to sell at the local market.

"I used to do agriculture the traditional method, but nothing grew," said Pascal. "Now that I have been taught to farm the way God wants me to, my crops are growing well on the same land. Every time we plant, we pray, asking God to bless the work of our hands - and He is."
For the first time, using the money from the surplus crops, Pascal is able to send his eldest four children to school. Already, he is passing down his farming knowledge to the next generation. His entire family is working the land with him - including his 2-year-old son, Gédeon.

Neighboring farmers are coming to Pascal's farm asking, "What are you doing to make your crops grow so fast? What kind of fertilizer are you using? What kind of pesticides?" When he tells them, "nothing," they say, "You have to have a secret; you're not telling us your secret."
Fortunately, Pascal and the "Food For Life" staff are happy to share their "secret" with others.
Ken Winebark, the Agriculture Program Administrator, said, "The principles we are sharing with them are very basic, and they're (the local farmers) grasping it. It's neat because we are having the opportunity to see things start to take shape. Many times, you don't know if you're accomplishing anything. You think and hope things are going well, but you don't really know. To be able to come back four months later and see the difference it's made already is really encouraging. It's great to lead the students through the process of realizing their vision."

No comments: