Friday, February 22, 2008

Agriculture Projects

Agricultural Projects

In addition to timber and woodworking, Kafakumba is focused on several agricultural projects that began with bananas. These now also include aloe vera, chickens, fish, cattle, macadamias, and honey. In the near future they expect to expand into palm oil, center pivot irrigation, and more. Each involves partnering in some fashion—with individuals (such as the banana farmers) or groups (such as the Franciscan Sisters). Each project is chosen for its cultural and ecological fit, profitability, sustainability, practicality and the need for such a product or food.

Raising fish is a good example of sustainable economic development. Much marshy and abandoned local land is available for building fish ponds. In addition, fish is a staple in the local diet. With almost four million people within an hour of Kafakumba, fish farming is a natural fit. In addition, local workers can easily learn basic skills necessary for fish farming (with the highly technical aspects cared for by someone else). Kafakumba intends to turn squatters on local land into fish farmers instead of charcoal makers—and by doing so will enhance their income greatly, provide food for hungry people, prevent deforestation, and provide funds to further develop Kafakumba’s outreach.

Chickens and cattle provide another example of Kafakumba-style development. It is their long term goal to provide enough cattle each year to feed the children in the Sisters of Saint Francis’ nutrition program (about 2,000 AIDS orphans). The money to develop the cattle business is being generated now by chickens, which are able to turn a quicker profit than cattle. Little by little, chicken profits are buying Brahmin cows, which will in turn provide food and profit for both the children and Kafakumba. In the meantime, several African workers make their living tending to the poultry and livestock.

Aloe vera is replacing some of the banana trees in local fields. It is very popular as an immune-boosting drink….helping to strengthen people against malaria and the effects of AIDS. If ever the need for aloe as a health supplement is exhausted (which hardly seems likely), it is in big demand by the cosmetic industry. Aloe is not completely replacing bananas, however. Bananas, even with their short lifecycle in Central Africa, provide fruit and employment for many.

Honey is a new venture for Kafakumba; the swarm boxes and bee hives are being built as we are here. It is very appealing as a food, requires little processing, and bees thrive on the richness of Zambia’s tropical plants. Propolis, a by-product of honey production, is another important immunological agent. Best of all, gathering honey is a simple task that can provide employment for very remote groups of people with limited modern skills.

Down the road there will be continued expansion of all of these projects….and more will be added. Life-giving jobs will provide for life-giving families and communities. For example, Kafakumba wants to provide medical care for the local village of Baluba and surrounding communities. The cost? Perhaps the profit from about three fish ponds? Let’s see: The cost to build and stock a fish pond? $12,000. Multiplied by three, a $36,000. investment should create the mechanism to provide healthcare for the indefinite future. Sustainable, local, empowering, enriching. It’s really a brilliant idea.

So what will it take to continue and grow the Training Center? Build the school? Provide a Youth Center? Build churches? Feed the hungry and widows? Care for the sick and disabled? What is the cost of being disciples of Jesus and living out the Kingdom of God? That’s what it will take.

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