Haiti Seed Program Combines Disaster Relief, Development

Haitian Brethren church leaders are actively implementing a new seed distribution program, according to Jeff Boshart, Haiti coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries. The program is combining disaster response with development of agriculture in communities where churches and preaching points of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) are located.

Jeff Boshart visits a bean field in Haiti, planted with seed loaned through the Church of the Brethren program. (Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford)

Following is Boshart’s e-mail report:

“This program will become a seed loaning program run by each participating church. Jean Bily Telfort, general secretary of Eglise des Freres Haitiens and pastor of the Croix des Bouquets congregation, has studied agriculture and has met with farmers in each participating congregation to share the hopes for this project.

“The leadership in each church developed the list of participants and the conditions for repayment of the seeds. Each participant will receive up to 25 pounds of bean seed, and will need to return an amount something closer to 27 or 28 pounds (including an “interest” payment also made in seed). Lead farmers have been identified in each congregation to receive and store the seed to be re-loaned next year.

“In term of actual dollar amounts, the price of beans at planting time is significantly greater than at harvest time, so the value of the beans returned is actually less, even though the quantity is greater. It will be up to each congregation to decide how long they wish to continue this project.

“Jean Bily reported that the help was enthusiastically received. Over 500,000 people are internally displaced in Haiti, having fled Port-au-Prince after the earthquake of Jan. 12. Many of these people have moved in with rural relatives and have strained already limited food reserves.

“To date $2,000 has been provided for seed purchases, and when completed over $5,000 will have been disbursed and 240-270 farmers will receive this help within the next month. In the area south of Port-au-Prince, farmers already have planted and their beans are up.”

In other news, the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) Brethren Mission Fund is helping build worship shelters for some of the rural outlying churches not directly affected by the earthquake.

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