This week in PCUSA Mission:
April 17 – International Day of
(Valery Nodem, Presbyterian Hunger Program)
As I travel around the world and visit farmers and other agricultural partners, my appreciation of farmers and respect for them grows ever stronger. Every day I learn more about what farming repre-sents, not only for farmers but also for all of us as consumers. We depend daily on farmers and farms yet often do not get glimpses of their daily realities or struggles. Many farmers find themselves living in poverty and being affected by hunger. In 2015, three United Nations agencies reported that most of the 795 million people worldwide who don’t get enough to eat are in fact farmers.
In January, I visited with farmers in Sri Lanka whose land had been forcefully taken away during years of civil war in their country. Since then, Sri Lankan farmers have had a hard time providing for themselves and their families. They shared stories about the abundance of food they used to produce, the streams of water near the villages that allowed them to irrigate their farms, and the overall ease of access to water for daily use. With-out their land, it has been difficult to meet basic needs and to establish a sense of belonging and community.
These Sri Lankan farmers echo what I see and hear all around the world as I meet with farmers. Farmers feed the world! Yet farming is not always perceived as a “dignified job,” and society rarely gives the recognition farmers deserve. Meanwhile, apart from the availability of land, farmers face many other challenges: losing access to native seeds (that have been the basis of agriculture since the beginning of creation), no access — or very limited access — to capital,and the effects of cli-mate change (which often destroys their produc-tion and means of living).