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Conservation agriculture in Rwanda (Photo courtesy of Don Lotter)

(Photo courtesy of Don Lotter)

Conservation agriculture in Rwanda

April 13, 2011

Don Lotter, an agricultural scientist who is consulting with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) projects in Africa, stands in front of a healthy plot of corn in Rwanda that has been grown by “Farming God’s Way.” MCC is training farmers in many African countries to use this approach, a type of conservation agriculture. Instead of tilling the land, farmers dig individual holes where they plant the seeds with fertilizer or compost. Then they cover the entire field with mulch. This “agronomically sound” technique reduces soil erosion, improves soil fertility and increases yield, said Lotter, who is from Davis, Calif. African farmers are especially open to it because the method is presented within a Biblical context. Teaching more effective ways of farming is one of the ways MCC is working to counteract the effect of rising food prices on global hunger.