Werner Ristow, working in South Africa, wrote to us about the article on FGW in EDN 98. “My first contact with this method of production was through Pastor August Basson in Lesotho in the village of Tebellong. The production season 2006/2007 was characterized by extreme drought in many parts of Southern Africa. Lesotho is receiving disaster assistance from the FAO. Despite this, I believe that some farmers at Tebellong were able to sell maize to the FAO for use in the programme. In our work we are testing FGW, but I must admit that we are not giving it the spiritual attention which it deserves.”
Martin Price wrote back to ask whether or not, during the drought, there was any significant difference in productivity between farmers using FGW and the others who used normal techniques.
Werner Ristow asked August Basson to address the question, and also commented, “Our results with basin planting this year are beyond expectation. At this stage it would not be correct to call our practices FGW (Farming God’s Way)—we need a Pastor to help us with the nonagricultural part.”
Mr. Basson wrote, “I am amazed at the report over the news of drought and food insecurity. If you want a simple answer to your question: there is a huge difference in yield between FGW and traditional methods. The reasons for this are the following:
“1. Farmers who plough wait for the rain and then, when it comes, they start to plough and the poor tractor owner cannot keep up. This year all the tractors broke and we were the only ones continuing planting at the optimum planting time. So the BIGGEST contributing factor is early and timely planting. We have the advantage of using the moisture to its optimum. This year we planted our last maize the 15th of November. The government still planted at 18 December. Needless to say this is too late.
“2. The next contributing factor was that the FGW farmers used fertilizer. Their yields were 5 times the country’s average. (2000 kg versus 400 kg).
“3. The other thing was that our farmers’ organic matter is increasing on top of the soil. The water penetration has increased tremendously. We therefore have a bigger chance to use all the erratic rainfall.
“4. We are also able to survive at least 2 weeks longer before a dry period hits us.
“5. When all of this is said and done, if our farmers do not weed their field and if they plant late they do not get any of these benefits.
“Just a footnote. We call it FGW (Farming God’s Way) because it describes it so well and our African people really like it, but we also call it CA, Conservation Agriculture, or Notill. The principles stay the same, but the way we communicate it…might differ a little from the secular models. But we all have the same purpose, to transform people’s lives, clean up the muddy rivers and let the restoration process take hold of the land and people’s lives.
“We firmly believe just another agricultural method will not transform lives. A new worldview will change people and therefore we work very hard to help people see themselves differently. For more information go to our website http://www.growingnations.co.za/ “
ECHO Staff 2008. Farming God's Way - Feedback. ECHO Development Notes no. 99