Central African Republic Gamboula
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Evangelical Covenant Church - CWR
Local partner CEFA/ACET conducts agricultural research and extension relevant to small farmers who are food insecure; trials include new varieties of staple crops, vegetables, beans, fruits, as well as animal husbandry and aquaculture in order to determine their suitability to local conditions. They introduce successful varieties to communities through farmer cooperatives and train farmers in sustainable farming techniques, animal rearing, and improved oil palm production. They reach others through farmer-to-farmer extension throughout the large, under-served country.
Local Partner Continues Work as Program Ends
As this multi-year program comes to an end, there is much to celebrate. The local partner, Center for Experimentation and Training in Agriculture (CEFA) is in a strong position to forge ahead on its own. In this country of 4.6 million souls spread over 240,535 square miles, CEFA is one of the few organizations present that offer any kind of support to the inhabitants. The CEFA team has its work cut out for it. But the co-op system and years of experience ensure that members support each other between team visits.
Co-ops throughout the country focus variously on processing fruit, raising crops, nurseries for palm seedlings or coffee, or raising fish or cattle.
The members of one co-op were surprised to find that the cocao trees in its demonstration plot had started to produce. “Is it a miracle?” someone asked. Nadège, one of those who worked on the plot, said, “No: this is what happens when you follow best practices.” Neighbors were so impressed that they began to clear the palm groves they’d allowed to become overgrown with weeds.
The women’s Self-Help groups are slowly breaking out of their savings-only practice and venturing into lending each other money with interest to invest in small businesses. For example, one woman took out a loan equivalent to 10 days’ wages ($17) to buy oil-palm heads. She processed the oil herself, sold it, returned the loan plus interest, and still had $99 profit.
There has been little spread of COVID-19 in Central African Republic, and people use social distancing and masks to stay healthy. Growing Hope wishes CEFA and the many co-ops well as they continue to make improvements in agriculture in this country.
Central African Republic Gamboula Program
Led by Evangelical Covenant Church/Covenant World Relief and Local Partner CEFA