Today we celebrate World Food Day! Below is an update from the field, and an example of the work being done in Madagascar by the Mercy Ships Agricultural team and partners to improve farming practices and meet the nutritional needs of families and individuals in the country.
A Garden in Tamatave.
Last week I had the opportunity to conduct a follow-up visit with Eliphaz Essah, Agriculture Projects Facilitator, at Love-N-Care Ministries agriculture project here in Tamatave. Ludovic and Harisolo, two of the staff at Love-N-Care, attended the Food for Life Agriculture training in Antananarivo during Mada 1.
The land where they are working is very sandy, so during the last field service Love-N-Care partnered with Mercy Ships to have all of the food scraps from the ship brought to their site here in Tamatave to be used for compost.
When Ludovic and Harisolo graduated from the Food for Life training this spring, they returned to Tamatave to turn the land, that no one believed was any good, into a garden with the vision of it one day becoming a farm.
An experiment like this has never been attempted in Tamatave due to the prevailing belief that “the soil in the area can never be used for anything, other than growing vanilla and palm trees, so do not even try”.
During the last field service when the ship first started sending the food scraps to the site, the land was not only sandy but also full of weeds and shrubs. They first experimented on a small area of the land and dug a well to ensure that it would be able to produce vegetables, and it succeeded.
Now it has become a beautiful garden where they are growing a large variety of vegetables and fruit such as different types of cabbage, watermelon, eggplant, carrots, strawberries, green peppers, and corn to name a few.
They are using the produce from the garden to feed almost 800 children who attend the school that is run by Love-N-Care Ministries.
Currently they are expanding the area of their garden. This is all done by hand with the assistance of the families of the students who attend the school.
Love-N-Care Ministries and the families have created a partnership where the families assist in the garden and in return they receive training and seeds to start their own gardens at their homes.
Ludovic and Harisolo are also working on adding animal production to their garden production. Currently they have ten chickens, but are unable to expand this until they have built better cages to keep them in.
They have submitted a proposal to Love-N-Care Ministries to add ducks in addition to more chickens. They are hoping to start the animal production in two to three months.
Ludovic and Harisolo’s project leader said “I can see that what is happening fits with the vision of the ministry as well as meeting the needs of the students through providing food. We are continuing to grow which will allow us, in years to come, to continue to meet the needs of the students through the food production.”
– Erica Schmidt, Capacity Building Support Projects AFM