Updates: Evergreen Agriculture (Fertilizer Trees) and Amaranth
In World Renew we are always learning about new ways to use the huge diversity of assets the Lord put into his creation all around the world so that people experience the abundant life the Lord intended for his people. Here are a couple of updates and some pictures of things I’ve been learning about lately. First, if we could add fertilizing trees to the good work already started in conservation agriculture—we might be able to further enrich the worn out soils, produce more firewood for cooking, and reduce the heavy labor demand required for compost making. It turns out that the International Center for Agro-forestry in Kenya is willing to collaborate with World Renew in helping us set up farmer exchange learning visits, helping us obtain fertilizing tree seeds for various environments, and help us train staff and farmer-teachers. What a great blessing this could become! Here are a couple of pictures that show what this might look like in actual practice:
Another journey of learning has been with the amazing plant species called amaranth. Last week I was privileged to participate in the Amaranth Institute in Chicago. The lady to the left of the picture recently completed her Ph.D. and has now started her own company. One of her goals is to make the wonderful nutritional benefits of amaranth leaves more available to the human body and less bitter to the taste. She is actually starting production facility in Rwanda with the support of the government there. The African lady behind the table is from Kenya and showed all of us—including people from Russia who want to start a new amaranth products company—- how to prepare amaranth leaves in a tasty way by lightly frying them in olive oil, adding onions, peppers, and tomatoes. The leaves tasted very good! And they are so high in calcium, iron, and Vitamins.
One of the little jokes along the way: The African lady quietly mentioned that for African people a bitter tasting leaf means that it is good for you. Umm….are we Americans assuming that this situation is something like the ketchup business—-where taste, texture and sweetness all work together to make us happy?
One of the more serious stories I heard: a woman in Zimbabwe learned that her brother was dying of AIDs. The doctors had sent him home from the hospital to die. Upon learning about this she began nursing her brother’s sores with a poultice made from amaranth grain, and began feeding him amaranth grain porridge and amaranth grain flour mixed into his foods. He recovered, he is still living with AIDs and is alive today. There are many stories similar to this that challenge us to continue learning! I hope that in March of 2014 we of World Renew will also continue learning, as we hope to carry out an in-depth evaluation of the spread and the lessons from our amaranth promotion work in Kenya and Uganda. This is something that I’ve worked for, for quite a long time, and it now looks certain to take place.