I attended the Ugandan 6th Annual Farming God’s Way National Workshop near the capital city of Kampala at the end of July. Farming God’s Way is a program that consists of a suite of Biblical principles, management skills, and agriculture techniques and has a proven track record since 1984 when it was modeled on a large farm in Zimbabwe. Many farmers have experienced yield increases of 7 to 10 times that of traditional farming methods in Uganda. It also helps lower input costs by decreasing field preparation costs, decreasing the amount of seeds wasted, using land more efficiently, lowering fertilizer costs, and retaining rainwater more efficiently. Lower costs and more yield equals more money for the farmers.
When looking at developing a vocational training program here, farming is a great place to start because it is such an important part of the economy here. The great thing about this program is that it has a Biblical basis and has a discipleship aspect already built into the program. This will be a great way to get started in vocational training and discipleship, because the program is already established, ready go go, and has a proven track record in Uganda.
Farming God’s Way is not merely a technology, but an incredibly powerful tool delivering attainable solutions to both living and farming. It is a holistic view allowing for the Kingdom of God to be ushered in within the domain of agriculture. It consists of three spheres – Spiritual, Technology, and Management. Farming God’s Way represents a Kingdom agricultural tool to bring about a deliverance of the poor from the yoke of poverty in all aspects of life.
Going to a class about Farming God’s Way does not qualify one to teach the program. To be able to teach the program, you must actually put the principles into action and have your own demonstration plot called a “Well-Watered Garden”. Only through practical application does one learn the program and then become qualified to teach the program to others. A well-watered garden is a 6 meter by 6 meter plot that will demonstrate how Farming God’s Way works by growing maize and beans and shows on a small scale what should take place on a large scale in the field.
I had been in prayer about locating some land to build my well-watered garden because the plot needs to be in an area that people can see what you are doing and then see the results of the new methods. I don’t have ample space where we live and even if I did, it wouldn’t be very accessible to outsiders. God answered my prayers through a friend named Mark. He offered me the use of a plot of land that he had purchased with the intent of eventually building a home. It is absolutely perfect because it is not too far from my home, is right along a road in a nearby village, and has a farm directly across from it that is growing maize using traditional Ugandan farming methods.
One of the ways that Farming God’s Way is different from traditional farming methods is that it utilizes a no till method. In Uganda, the primary means of preparing land for planting is to plough the land using a hoe. The land where we live is a clay soil that when tilled and rained on gets hard as a brick under the sun. Farming God’s Way uses no till farming and 100% mulch coverage, so the soil remains soft underneath. The mulch and no tilling also prevents erosion, retains more rainfall, and allows for a deeper soaking from rain.
This is a foreign concept to many farmers in Uganda. As I began to clear out the weeds on my well-watered garden, I had people constantly watching me. I think it was a combination of a Mzungu (white person) working in the field and confusion as to why I was not digging (tilling) as they did. I even had one man stop by and ask, “don’t you know how to dig?” I’ve had quite a few opportunities to share with them that this is a different farming method than they are used to doing. This is usually met with skepticism, but I’m praying that the method will prove successful. If they see that I’m getting taller maize crops and more yield, they will want to know how I did that and it will be an opportunity to share not only this new method, but also the Gospel with them.
Hosea 4:6 “My people perish for a lack of knowledge.”