Saturday, October 15, 2011
Could Rwanda Become the “Bread Basket” of Africa?
A week with Willy and Ben has made me a believer in their vision. As God showed Willy how to restore 8,000 acres of depleted land into a thriving farm and then Africa’s leading ecotourism park, God was also planting a vision for agriculture throughout Africa. As Ben healed emotionally and forgave (by God’s grace) those who took, without compensation, his 14,000 acre farm in Zimbabwe, God gave him a vision for training African farmers in the principles of farming God’s way.
Together, through the Foundation For Farming, they plan to disciple nations in God’s principles of farming, which will bring about a huge increase in the productivity of the land without depleting it. They believe Rwanda will provide the prototype for other nations.
In an earlier post, I said that Serge (Cohort 3) was putting his big agriculture idea on the back burner to focus on his baking business. God may have other ideas. Serge has been interpreting for Willy and Ben, and they have been training and discipling him. Willy drew up plans for a model training center on Serge’s 25 acre farm. Willy and Ben both believe that Serge could be the leader to oversee the transformation of Rwandan agriculture and to develop a training center that would serve all of East Africa.
Some people can articulate a compelling vision. Others can demonstrate practical skills needed to accomplish a vision. Rarely can people do both. Willy & Ben are the rare exceptions. They conveyed the vision to me, but they also taught 100 uneducated widows how to plant maise in a 35 square meter plot. They are farmers who have had their hands in the soil for 30-40 years, so they can demonstrate what they are teaching.
The vision is powerful, but it is also fragile, because resources are tight and cultural and educational barriers are high. Despite the challenges, it looks like God has put all the right ingredients in the pot:
- Rwanda’s land is well-suited to the vision—two growing seasons, plenty of water, and hilly land that forces farms into small plots, which are ideal for farming God’s way.
- Rwanda’s government is visionary, growth-oriented, and stable.
- The Business Development Center provides a hub for training leaders and connecting Rwandans with international experts. We have a steady flow of very sharp, educated, motivated entrepreneurs targeting agriculture. We can see many of them becoming leaders in this transformational farming movement—the ones who see the big picture and have the skills to train the farmers and organize them into larger production units.
- Because of this “infrastructure”, Willy and Ben are excited about investing their time in Rwanda.
We can’t wait to taste the “stew”.