Friday, September 23, 2005

SEEDS FOR AFRICA: Planting A Brighter Future

When I read that a donation of £1000 could pay for the establishment of a prison vegetable garden, I must admit, my curiosity got the best of me.

I was reading about Seeds for Africa, a registered UK charity based at the University of Kent, Canterbury.

The reasoning for the prison vegetable garden is that such a garden would provide young adult offenders with self esteem and a means to provide for themselves and their families and thereby avoid the need for offending in the future. Because the students at Kent came up with this bit of innovative thinking gives me great expectations for the generation of the future.

The organization, established in July 1998, focuses upon encouraging sustainable vegetable gardening with the provision of good quality indigenous seeds, tools, and the sharing of agricultural knowledge.

Seeds for Africa is committed to overcoming poverty and desolation throughout Africa. And they intend to do this by distributing vegetable seeds to impoverished groups and by helping the younger African generation develop new agricultural knowledge and sustainable projects.

Their aim is to promote more positive attitudes towards protecting the environment in Africa. They also hope that their work is will fundamentally improve the livelihoods of local communities by offering the expert guidance of pioneering African project co-ordinators who live and work locally.

Seeds for Africa is run by staff and student volunteers at the University of Kent and draws upon a wide range of expertise which contributes to its ability to provide sound technical advice to the communities it serves.

This effort also helps to tackle poverty at its grassroots by providing food through the facilitation of vegetable gardening. Today, over 600 schools and churches in the UK are supporting Seeds for Africa.

But prisons are not the only communities that receive assistance from Seeds for Africa.
This non-profit organization also helps other community groups such as Primary and secondary schools, Churches, HIV/AIDS clinics, and Drug rehabilitation centres. Seeds for Africa provides these organizations with the tools, seeds and training they require to start their own vegetable gardens. Seeds for Africa often provides water installation and helps to prepare the land. In helping to address the need for irrigation, Seeds for Africa uses the skills of local people, so that projects do not create a culture of dependency. But this is true with the management of all of the garden management techniques. The need for developing this type of sustainability is illustrated by the fact that while 40 percent of the cropland in South Asia is under irrigation, only 4 percent is irrigated in Africa. The increase of irrigated croplands in Africa will mainly be determined by the abilities of the local communities to muster and maintain the skills to do so.

Seeds for Africa has helped to create over 800 garden projects in 25 African countries while encouraging sustainable vegetable gardening. They facilitate “the provision of good quality indigenous seeds and tools, and we share agricultural knowledge.”

Their web site reminds us that UN statistics from 2004 substantiate that “every day in Africa, up to 19,000 children and infants die from starvation.” And they state that they believe that providing African communities with agricultural skills has been proved to be a very successful way to relieve poverty. They back this belief by citing FARM Africa’s report that the World Bank acknowledgement that “a one percent increase in agricultural growth leads to an increase in the incomes of the poorest Africans by twice as much as the same investment in the service sector.”

In 25 countries Seeds for Africa seeks to train people in gardening skills that bestow independence and dignity, encourage nutritious diets, and secure reliable sources of food for the future. Those countries are: Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Chairman of Seeds for Africa, Albert Bullock, said in 2004: “The long-term goal of all our projects is for newly found gardening skills to be shared beyond the project itself. It is the active involvement of families through small -scale backyard gardening that Seeds for Africa wishes to strongly support. This in turn will give families the opportunity to realise their potential and improve their standard of living.”

So, if you are so inclined, you may wish to consider donating that £1000 to Seeds for Africa to help finance a prison vegetable garden. But if you would like to fund some other project, their web site has a list of projects and what it would cost to fund them.

“£5 would buy a fruit tree. It will be allocated to one pupil to care for the tree initially and then handed on as a legacy to another pupil for continuing nurture.

£200 would enable a school to set up a vegetable garden-so children can learn the skills of germination and plant management.

£500 would pay for an oil press machine. This valuable agricultural tool enables men, women and children to press their groundnuts and sunflower seeds into oil.

£1000 could cover the cost of an agricultural scholarship to invest in a young African’s future by sponsoring a 4-year Distance Learning Course leading to a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture.

£4000 would fund a single Roundabout Playpump for a school. This is a positive displacement pump. Children use it like a roundabout and pump water to the surface as they play.

£100,000 could cover the cost of setting up 500 self-sustaining Seeds for Africa projects, each of which would enhance the lives of a whole community.

£250,000 could cover the cost of employing an agricultural co-ordinator in each of five African countries for over three years. This would enable Seeds for Africa to see whether it is meeting its objectives through increased monitoring and evaluation.”

But even if you are not able to provide funding for any of Seeds for Africa projects, still visit their web site and read more about the wonderful things that it is doing.

Seeds for Africa

No comments: