WORLD FOOD DAY: Salesian Missions highlights programs that invest in food security and agriculture production
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other organizations around the globe in honoring World Food Day. Celebrated each year on Oct. 16, the day was established to bring attention to the plight of the world’s hungry and undernourished while providing an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the complex solutions for ending hunger. It is also a chance for the international community to show its commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 2, to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.
FAO notes that Zero Hunger means “working together to ensure everyone, everywhere, has access to the safe, healthy and nutritious food they need. To achieve it, we must adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, work with others, share our knowledge and be willing to help change the world – for the better.”
This year’s theme, “Our Actions are our Future” bring awareness to the fact that after a period of decline, world hunger is on the rise again. More than 820 million people are suffering chronic undernourishment, according to the latest FAO 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report. The report notes that, “conflict, extreme weather events linked to climate change, economic slowdown and rapidly increasing overweight and obesity levels are reversing progress made in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.”
FAO also notes that 70 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas where people’s lives depend on agriculture, fisheries or forestry. The World Food Day website indicates, “Smallholder farmers need to adopt new, sustainable agricultural methods to increase productivity and income. Ensuring the resilience of rural communities requires an approach that is mindful of the environment, that leverages the power of technological innovation and creates stable and rewarding employment opportunities.”
“Salesian Missions programs are dedicated to facilitating agricultural and technical education and providing feeding programs in more than 130 countries around the globe,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Operating primary schools, technical training centers, agricultural schools, youth centers, orphanages and programs for street children, Salesian missionaries are on the front lines of the battle against hunger. At Salesian agricultural schools, missionaries work with farmers to bring new methods of farming that increase productivity in local communities.”
This World Food Day, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs that invest in food security and agriculture production.
In Montero, just 40 km outside of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Salesian missionaries operate La Muyurina Agricultural School. The school offers more than just agricultural training. It is part of a larger program that also offers traditional secondary education and other vocational training in addition to feeding programs for area children.
Many of the children attending the school come from an agricultural background but often their families have never received formal agricultural education and training. The academic preparation provided enables students to implement farming methods that are more efficient which increases crop yields and delivers a food supply more readily accessible to their families and communities.
The Salesian-run International Volunteer Service for Development (VIS) provides services to youth in developing countries around the globe. Part of the organization’s work is to assist youth at risk of exploitation, particularly those at risk of trafficking. In Ghana, Salesian missionaries, in collaboration with VIS volunteers, have created a Stop Human Trafficking campaign which brings awareness about trafficking and works to provide local education and workforce development to help youth remain in their own communities instead of migrating. Youth are most at risk of trafficking when migrating to foreign lands in search of work and better opportunities.
Small-scale farms in Ghana suffer from a lack of infrastructure and equipment, both of which are needed to shift from subsistence farming to more modern commercial farming. Modern methods would yield greater incomes and a chance to escape poverty. Thanks to vocational training courses in eco-sustainable agriculture in the country, many young people now have the opportunity to learn a trade, create employment and increase food production while at the same time combat trafficking.
Children attending the Don Bosco Youth Center in Lungi, a small coastal town in the Port Loko District of the Northern Province of Sierra Leone, have access to better nutrition thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions and Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to “feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit.”
Lungi is a poor community and the demand for nutritional rice meals is at an all-time high. Most youth attending activities at the Don Bosco Youth Center are malnourished and underprivileged. The feeding program ensures they have the proper nutrition to improve their concentration at school, participation in sports programming and interaction with peers while at the center.
The ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Feed My Starving Children has resulted in 40-foot containers of fortified rice-meals being shipped to Salesian sites around the globe. Feed My Starving Children provides the food and Salesian Missions takes care of the cost and logistics of shipping each container from Feed My Starving Children warehouses to the destination country. Salesian Missions also works to help identify where the greatest needs are at any given time. The partnership began in early 2006 when the first 40-foot container was donated to and shipped by Salesian Missions for programs in Sri Lanka.
Salesian Missions recently provided funding to help support a clean water project and food production in Lufubu, Zambia that impacted local Salesian programs. In the poor remote community of Lufubu, Salesian missionaries operate a church parish and a youth center that serves 200 local children ages 4 to 20. They also operate an agricultural boarding school for 53 students ages 18 to 30.
The government of Zambia asked Salesian missionaries to start the agricultural school in Lufubu with the goal of establishing an alternative to fishing. The local community was over-fishing the lakes and needed a new source of food security that would combat hunger while preserving the environment. The school includes a working farm where each student is designated a personal plot of land and gains hands-on experience in animal husbandry and the cultivation of vegetables and maize. The farm includes 400 hectares of land, five of which are currently cleared, and there is a river nearby that provides a reliable source of water year-round.
Salesian Missions has provided funding to help support food production at the farm. Brother Robert Malusa, a Salesian priest in Lufubu, noted that eggs were a desired commodity at the agriculture school but aside from the eggs from a few local chickens, people could only get eggs by buying them in a neighboring city 50 km away. Residents of the local community simply could not afford to travel to make this purchase. The recent funding to purchase chickens will provide the eggs needed in the community while giving Salesian teachers an effective way of teaching this kind of farming at the agricultural school.
Funding was also utilized to buy goats for the farm. Salesian missionaries wanted goats in order to experiment with different kinds of cheese to vary the strict Lufubu diet of corn and fish as well as the occasional goat and chicken meat. Both projects are helping to increase the productivity of the Salesian campus while making it more sustainable.
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FAO – World Food Day 2018