New Farming Initiatives in Chad
In Guera, Chad, the Magis Foundation has been working with the local Jesuits to train and provide resources for up to a thousand farmers. Father Franco Martellozzo, an Italian Jesuit who has been living in Chad for 50 years, explains that a course of basic farming was organized for all the farmers.
Once the farmers had been trained, tools were then required to put into practice what they had learned. Father Franco says, “We got in touch with all the blacksmiths in the region and we asked them to provide us with the necessary tools.”
President Idris Deby has showed his respect for the work of the Jesuits in this area and had promised his government support, although this is yet to materialize.
This new project works alongside the existing “Vegetable gardens and Wells” Project which is aimed at women and has been active for some years. Small plots of land are given to groups of women who not only cultivate them, but also manage their products. The idea is to promote female empowerment and to create a positive development cycle. Vegetables produced allow the introduction of new food into the diet, which is based almost exclusively on millet, polenta and cooked sauces, enriching it with important vitamins. The vegetable gardens’ products also allow women to guarantee not only the family’s food self-sufficiency, but also the development of small-scale vegetable-trading activities in their village market.
While care of vegetable gardens is mainly entrusted to women, construction of wells, usually located near or in each garden, is supported by the local population and by the village committees in a strong collaborative spirit.
“Community gardens represent a challenge in the agricultural, food and social system of Chad villages, both for women and also for their entire communities. Not only new cultivation techniques are learned, but also management is improved. These are steps forward towards achievement of the common good”. (Father Franco).
Fr Martellozzo and Fr Serge (a local French Jesuit).