Meaford, Ontario farmer Henry Reinders (right) with Malawian farmer Danny Gwira (left) who learned conservation agriculture techniques through a Foodgrains Bank supported project. (Photo: Shaylyn McMahon)
The worst crop that Meaford, Ontario farmer Henry Reinders has ever produced was last year’s hay crop.
“In order to make dry hay you need at least three consecutive days of dry weather and we rarely got that,” says Reinders. “Last year was the wettest summer I’ve ever experienced.”
Thankfully, Reinders’ customers still accepted his hay.
“I’ve been very fortunate and never had a situation where a poor crop has affected me financially,” he says.
That’s not the case for many farmers around the world, though.
“In Malawi, farmers feel the effects of crop failure and climate change quite differently,” says Reinders, who recently returned home from visiting small-scale farmers affected by hunger in Malawi through a learning tour organized by Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
Reinders has organized the Bighead River growing project near Meaford for over 20 years. The trip was an opportunity to see first-hand how their contributions are used.
Reinders learned that many Malawian farmers are dealing with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns like prolonged drought and erratic rainfall. Producing a viable crop can be difficult.
“The farmers I met are dealing with one or two acres, and if they have a poor yield it totally devastates them – they have nothing to eat and they’re searching for ways to get money to buy food,” says Reinders.
As part of the tour, Reinders stayed in the home of Pressings Moyo, a farmer who participated in an agricultural training project through Foodgrains Bank member Presbyterian World Service & Development.
“Before the project, Pressings’ family was always short of food and they only ate leafy vegetables like cabbage and pumpkin leaves. He had no energy to work,” explains Reinders.
Through the project, Moyo learned sustainable soil management techniques that helped him grow more and better food.
“Since receiving the training, Pressings and his family moved from being hungry to having extra food to sell in eight short years,” says Reinders.
It was encouraging for Reinders to see the impact these different farming techniques are having on the lives of Malawian farmers.
“As a farmer, because I’m so directly tied to food production and I see what the land means to other farmers, I think it’s important that we share what we know to help those who are less fortunate,” he says.
“It gives me great hope that we can help many more farmers – many more people – in countries like Malawi become self-sufficient and food secure.”
–Shaylyn McMahon, Communications Assistant