Congregations Vote to Extend Agricultural Partnership

Dan Turk works with students at the Ivato seminary. Source: Presbyterian Mission

The Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) General Assembly voted to extend their signature agricultural sustainability program to synods on the island.

The Fruits, Vegetables, and Environmental Education program (FVEE) grew out of the work of missionary work to promote growing fruits and vegetables as means of reducing poverty and malnutrition. (Approximately 90% of the residents of Madagascar live below the poverty line on less than $2 a day.)

Through a partnership with the local seminary, students are instructed how to grow vegetables and fruit trees which assist many pastors in their first pastorates serving in rural areas. Upon graduation from the program, each seminarian receives a voucher redeemable for 10 fruit trees over three years.

“My colleagues and I have long recognized that a shortcoming in our training program is that follow-up with the new pastors is insufficient,” said Dan Turk, a missionary associated Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) World Mission. “The problem is that travel in Madagascar is very expensive (fuel costs over $4 per gallon) and the pastors are dispersed far and wide.  So, it is just not feasible to visit all the pastors who have received trees. But we keep our ears open and take advantage of opportunities to meet with pastors to learn about what they are doing.”

For the past fourteen years, FVEE has been  in engaged in gathering and planting fruit trees varieties, while teaching local communities about propagation techniques to establish healthy nurseries and planting orchards. Several local nurseries have even received additional support from the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

At a recent meeting of FJKM’s evangelism department in Southeast Madagascar, one of Turk’s FJKM’s colleagues, Rolland Razafiarison was invited to speak. While there, he connected with several former students, including

AOn occasion at an evangelism event, Turk was about to meet with an alumni of the program, Pastor Tafita from southwest Madagascar. Tafita working with members of his congregation planted their saplings more than six years ago and now oversee a nursery of more than 1,500 trees.

Though he periodically struggled to keep the trees nourished due to long dry seasons on the island, approximately 700 of these trees are now producing fruit, with lemons and oranges.

Source: Presbyterian Mission