Redeeming the Land was launched in May 2014, this project in Burundi enabled farmers to cultivate their land.
Redeeming the Land
FARMING IN BURUNDI
Burundi is home to 8 million people, but sadly over half the population lives below the poverty line, making it one of the world’s poorest nations.
The country’s economy is totally dependent on farming, yet agricultural land is under increasing pressure as the population expands. The soil fertility is also in decline due to deforestation, erosion and poor farming practice.
While the land offers great potential for social and economic development, this nation remains paralysed by poverty. During the ravaging decades of civil war, many of the hardworking farmers fled to neighbouring Uganda and Congo to seek a better life – leaving their land barren and non productive. Now, as they return, we believe the very soil that God has given them is an important key to the nation’s prosperity.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Our Redeeming the land project focused on using agriculture as a mechanism for breaking the cycle of poverty and showing God’s love to the local community. As with all OCT projects, Redeeming the Land intended to become self-sustaining in 3-5 years and this was achieved in the autumn of 2019 when over £20,000 was donated to the project. All five stages of the project were completed, which are as follows;
- Establish partnerships – only local people truly understand the needs of their community, therefore we always work alongside local partners to deliver OCT projects. A successful partnership was formed with a Christian Life Ministries, a local Church in Burundi, in 2017.
- Send a field worker – this important link person worked alongside our local partners to get the project off the ground. Karen Shaw moved to Burundi for one year in 2014/2015 and in November 2015 a local Burundian was appointed as Project Co-ordinator.
- Access agricultural land – many farmers lost land during the civil war and the conflict that followed. They were subsequently forced to work small patches of stony ground just to survive. Accessing agricultural land meant that the community could work together for a better future. In June 2017, 5 hectares of land was rented for the project for one year in Mubuga, a rural part of Burundi in the Gigeta Region
- Establish a farming co-operative – working alongside neighbours built relationships and fostered reconciliation – healing the wounds of the past. A Farming Association was established in July 2017 with a view to working the land with immediate effect. Tons of maize were harvested along with beans and peanuts.
- Facilitate the Training of Farmers –farmers were able to learn modern, sustainable, farming practice that helped them make better use of the land and resources they had; and in turn brought real and lasting transformation to their community. For the year 2017/18, 100 farmers had benefited from the project. 50 of them worked directly on the shared land and 50 others were trained in agricultural techniques to practice in their holdings.
People from different ethnic backgrounds continue to successfully work together. They have now set up a VSLA (Village Savings and Loan Association). This means that members can take out investment loans and they also plan to farm on small plots of rented land. BTBAB completed the project in January 2020.