We just received a letter from Pastor Simil Hondlwa in Mendi, Papua New Guinea about his recent visit to Kundugu Church in Hela Province to teach people about natural farming. Here’s an edited version of what he wrote:
“I left Nipa on Monday the 4th January and overnighted at Tari as it was too late to find a public motor vehicle. The next day, when I arrived at Hetamari, there were four people waiting to walk with me to Kundupu, over the Mt Tamila Hills. The track was wet and slippery. Cootatu birds swayed over the range and below us were the blue lakes of Mindiriya and Mindra. Fresh rainbow trout live there, which the locals catch on special seasons and which, like the lake itself have many myths associated with them. I wondered how the gas mining downstream might affect these lakes in the future.
We were welcomed by Pastor James Agiru and his congregation, and the next day started our first lesson, based on Proverbs 12:11. “He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment”. This was appropriate for the theme of the whole meeting, which was “Christians & Profitable Farming”. In the afternoon the 50 participants were divided into groups of five to discuss and present their findings including, for example, organic banana farming. The chalk boards were particularly helpful to the many who were illiterate.
On Thursday we studied organic farming theory and the next day the class went out on an excursion to identify the plants and learn how to use them organically in their farms. On Saturday we led the class to the church gardens. Using spades and bush knives, students learned to do round head sweet potato mounting as well as composting, mulching and water locks. They also came to understand the importance of worms and how to work with worms and micro-organisms to keep soil fertile and get a profitable harvest. On the Sunday about 100 people attended our service, and at the end of the meeting everyone made commitments: some to farm bananas organically, others sweet potatoes, while some wanted to try nurturing trees.”
Four things must happen to make training sessions work:
1. Several villages need to be involved.
2. Community leaders must be included.
3. Some crop seeds need to be distributed.
4. Many church leaders should be involved.