- Why does LWR focus on Agriculture?
- Why are we working in Bihar, India?
- What will we be doing in Bihar?
- Who will we be working with in Bihar?
- When will we be working with the communities of Bihar?
Why Does LWR Focus on Agriculture?
- One in eight people in the world, more than 840 million people go hungry every day.
- By 2050, the world will need to increase its food production by as much as 50 percent to feed 9 billion people. To do this, the international community must devote attention and resources to agricultural development and research, including a global push to close the “gender gap.” While increasing production, the world must also protect and sustain natural resources, taking specific measures to adapt to changing climatic conditions.
- Smallholder producers grow four-fifths of the food in developing countries.
- Agriculture not only suffers the impacts of climate change, it is also responsible for 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. While agricultural practices in more developed countries contribute to a significant portion of these emissions, the FAO estimates that 70 percent of the mitigation potential could actually be realized in developing countries.
- Societies with greater gender equity experience greater agricultural productivity and improved food security. (1) Yet a persistent gender gap remains in most of the countries where LWR works. If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent, which in turn could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent, up to 150 million people.(2)
- Improved access to food can be achieved by increasing and diversifying household food production, increasing household income and consumption, and reducing the cost of obtaining food.
- For households whose livelihoods are based entirely, or in part, on agriculture, limited access to land, water and other natural resources is often a leading cause of poverty. In addition, women-headed households are often those most affected by insecure or insufficient access to key natural resources.
Why are we working in Bihar, India?
With 54 percent of Bihar’s 109 million people living at or below the poverty line, this region of India is one of the poorest places in the world. While it’s the third most populated state in India, the majority of people there continue to be pushed to the margins of society. This includes Dalits, formerly known as “untouchables,” who are deemed impure or less than human by much of the rest of society.
Families who depend on farming are pushed to the margins of society. Because the soil in this region is dry and rocky the land does not hold water. Farms are small and yields are rarely enough to feed the family year-round. Families are often split up as men travel to cities looking for work.
Women and children in Bihar are pushed to the margins of society. 50 percent of children are malnourished and if their families can afford education it is typically only until they are 9 years old. Women, often left by men forced to migrate for work in the cities, have little education and bear the burden of childcare and heavy labor on the farm without the skills need to improve their family’s opportunities.
What will we be doing in Bihar?
Building off the success Lutheran World Relief has had with other communities in this region we will be providing training, education and new technology to help the people of Bihar increase their food security, income and ability to not just survive, but to thrive.
Farmers will replace decades-old farming methods with modern sustainable solutions, like tilling the soil, constructing seepage tanks, and creating trenches to capture water. Families will learn better methods for planting and fertilizing that can double and even triple crop yields.
Farmers will access high-yield seeds for growing rice and wheat along with vegetables like eggplant, cucumbers, and peppers, which will help improve nutrition.
Women will form Self-Help Groups in order to build a community safety net and provide loans to one another. Through their group savings accounts, they will be better able to meet the needs of their household such as education, shelter and medical care without having to borrow money at extremely high interest rates from predatory lenders.
And our congregation will be holding these communities in prayer, celebrating their successes with them, learning about and learning from our fellow children of God around the world. We will grow together in what it means to serve our neighbor, to love one another as Jesus loves us, to be good stewards of our resources—not only money, but also our abilities, our relationships, and God’s creation!
Who will we be working with in Bihar?
Lutheran World Relief — which has been working around the world since 1945 to bring an end to poverty, injustice and human suffering — is our partner in this work. With LWR we will work with local partners in Bihar to make this project a reality. That means change comes from within and community ties are strengthened.
The people of Bihar and their communities are our partners in this work. We currently estimate that we will be working with 4,000 households throughout the life of this project. These families are not simply recipients of our charity but participants with us in this important work of strengthening their communities.
We are working with other ELCA congregations throughout the United States to make this project a reality. LWR is partnering with large congregations like ours in this innovative approach to putting faith into action around the world. Throughout this process we will learn from one another and celebrate with each other as fellow Lutherans and sisters and brothers in Christ!
This partnership will be continually developing over the next four years. In these four years we will see how these communities grow in their ability to produce abundant and sustainable food, overcome food insecurity and empower women to be leaders. In these four years we will grow as stewards of God’s good creation, as global disciples and in our love and understanding of God’s world!