Lack of food security is one of the biggest challenges that Central Africans face each day as they toil in their gardens, trying to produce enough food to simply feed their families and afford other expenses in life such as health care or schooling for their children.
Main factors limiting production include trees, and the lack of means to renew farming supplies. But the fact of the matter is this: how well Central Africans’ gardens do determines how well they will survive. In order to combat this form of poverty, we have found one major principle Central Africans can practice that we believe will improve their chances of survival—and that is simply to practice “diversity,” both in what they eat and in what they grow.
Diversity in the diet helps to guarantee enough nutrients from each of the three major food groups of protein, fat and carbohydrate (energy), as well as the vitamins and minerals that are necessary to achieve healthy bodies and strong minds.
A diverse agricultural system must be established to ensure that the proper foods are available for a family to eat. Over the decades that we have served here in Central Africa, we have found that a type of agroforestry system known as “tree gardening” has been the most successful way to promote this kind of diversity. Education, via seminars, has been the method for sharing information on this kind of system, along with demonstrations and visits to Gamboula’s Garden of Eden where we have planted over 500 different kinds of fruit and other useful trees and vines. Eden is also the hub of the agroforestry part of our ministry; the agroforestry staff go out to villages (over 100 villages were visited over a 10 year period prior to the writing of this document in 2011) to train local farmers interested in establishing agroforestry cooperatives and in planting tree gardens. Our ministries here in Africa have been based on learning new ways to raise nutritious foods from both annual crops and tree crops, and then teaching others about them.
- What is Tree Gardening?
- Establishing a Tree Garden