The proverb was told to me by Bishop Fredrick Shoo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania on my recent trip to Moshi. The Bishop, on behalf of the Network of Faiths on Environment Action in Tanzania (NEFEAT), had organised a two-day Christian Farming workshop for the training of trainers.
There were 30 participants attending the workshop, forming a mixed group of men and women, farmers, faith leaders and teachers from the surrounding areas. The group was a roughly equal split of
Protestant (Lutheran), Roman Catholic, and Muslim participants. Having Muslims attend Christian training is of great importance to the NEFEAT network and likewise they will invite Christians to attend the Islamic Farming training scheduled for 2015.
The proverb told to me by Bishop Shoo reinforces the message embodied in Faithful Farming training. It emphasises the importance of healthy soil that grows healthy food, full of nutrients and without harmful synthetic sprays and chemicals.
Raphael Magambo of A Rocha Kenya delivered the training in Moshi. His engaging and inspiring teaching extended beyond the usual elements of zero-tillage and mulch, covering the innovative message of ecosystem services from trees. This is a valuable addition to the existing Faithful Farming material, showing how God’s creation includes valuable trees that have numerous benefits to farms.
It is therefore of great importance that trees be prioritised in smallholder agriculture. Raphael shared on numerous species, including the Faidherbia Albida, showing that 150 mature trees per ha can boost soil fertility equivalent to 300kg of fertiliser such as NPK.
The planting of trees, along with the other practical components of Christian Farming, gave the new trainers in Moshi a good overview of how to make sure that ‘what you eat’ will not eat you. Instead, by practicing Faithful Farming inspired by religious conviction, our food will provide nourishment to the body and to the land it is grown in.
- Sam Adams, ARC