Farming and growing food crops are important parts of life in Uganda, including for the sons and daughters and many of the staff members at both of New Hope Uganda’s children centers.
Below is an update on a different method being implemented at Kasana Children’s Centre this year on a small-scale basis; followed by an explanation of the rationale behind practicing agriculture at New Hope Uganda.
Farming God’s Way
From Segirinya Francis, Garden Supervisor
Traditionally, Ugandans grow crops by plowing with oxen or with hand hoes and then planting maize in the furrows. Maize (or white corn) along with beans are the main crops that Ugandan families grow to provide for their daily diet. But plowing and planting season after season tends to result in decreasing production as the soil nutrients get depleted.
This year, three of the Kasana family groups (Jonathan, Ebenezer, and Samuel) are doing small gardens following the Farming God’s Way method, in addition to gardens following the traditional way they have been practicing previously. While it can be used for several different crops, we are beginning it with just maize.
Farming God’s Way is a method developed in the 1980s. It continues to be taught and shared by a group with the goal of helping Africans break the cycle of poverty and subsistence farming that many families find themselves stuck in. People who use this method faithfully experience an increasing multiplication of their crops year after year.
The main components of this method are digging holes in the soil rather than plowing, adding specific organic materials to put nutrients back into the soil, and mulching after planting to help the soil retain moisture.
Farming God’s Way takes a lot of extra work and time at the beginning, but when it is done well in the first year it can lay the groundwork for the coming years. I worked hard this year to envision the parents and our sons and daughters in the family groups so that they would be excited about doing it.
I first heard about Farming God’s Way in 2011 or 2012 when a group from South Africa came and did a demonstration at Kasana. I was a son in Samuel Family at the time, and we tried it out, but we got discouraged because it was a lot of work.
One of our former staff at the Enterprise Farm left behind a DVD about Farming God’s Way, plus Uncle Mulu recently went for training in this method. When he implemented it in one of his gardens last year, he saw a definite increase in the yield despite the famine.
I want our sons and daughters to learn this for several reasons. For one, because of the drought we had last year it would be very beneficial to know methods to help increase crop production. Secondly, we want to do what we can to increase the health of the soil rather than continually depleting it. Thirdly, some of our children may be interested in pursuing agriculture in the future and it would be good for them to have exposure to this method.
All of the parents and children in the family groups were excited about Farming God’s Way after watching the DVD. But as the three families have started practicing this method, they have also faced discouragement about the amount of preparatory work for it. I hope that they will be excited and re-energized about it when they see their production increased from the small plots at the end of this growing season around June.
Why Agriculture is Practiced at New Hope Uganda
From Mulu Joseph, Families Supervisor
First and foremost, we want to cultivate the culture of work in our children’s minds—showing that work is not a curse but a blessing. Many people, including our children, think work is a curse. This can lead to an unwillingness to work. The truth is that God commanded Adam to work (Genesis 2:15) even before the Fall. God’s curse of the ground in Genesis 3:17b-19 makes work more difficult, but work itself is not a curse.
A second reason for farming is to make good use of our land, and also to avoid buying what we can produce as families such as cassava, sweet potatoes, etc. Our goal is to continue working towards self-sufficiency, particularly in the area of food and agriculture. Growing vegetables (such as collards) also helps to improve the nutritional variety of what our children in the family groups eat.
Thirdly, working in gardens improves relationships between parents and children. It is also a teaching ground for the children to train them in the life skills of farming and agriculture. That is what many families in Uganda depend upon for their livelihood. If our children had no experience in it, they could be at a great disadvantage later.
Farming isn’t only limited to the family groups. At our schools, the various classes also have different gardens that they are responsible for! They spend time each week cultivating various crops in that land.
Please pray with us for continued rains at Kasana, where the rains have begun well; and especially at Kobwin, where it is still very dry.