Wednesday, 15 January 2014 15:27

Swift Current-based Grasslands Growing Projects grows record crop, Foodgrains reaps the reward

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Grasslands Growing Projects committee member Troy LaForge (at right) introduces guest speaker Dave Meyer, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank provincial coordinator, at the appreciation banquet in Swift Current on Jan. 8. Grasslands Growing Projects committee member Troy LaForge (at right) introduces guest speaker Dave Meyer, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank provincial coordinator, at the appreciation banquet in Swift Current on Jan. 8.

A record harvest for the Swift Current-based Grasslands Growing Projects will result in significant financial support for Canadian Foodgrains Bank development programs around the world.

Details about the project and the financial returns on last year’s harvest were presented during an appreciation dinner at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Swift Current Jan. 8.
The Grasslands Growing Projects had raised more than $500,000 for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank since 2006. In 2013 it raised $128,785 from two quarter sections of land.
Projects committee member Troy LaForge said their success is the result of a big community effort that involves producers who seed, spray and harvest the project, chemical companies that donate products to get the crops in good shape, grain companies that donate crop storage in their facilities and individuals who take on different tasks such as bookkeeping.
“So pretty substantial what we can do when we put our community together and all link arms and work together at this,” he said. “I can’t say thank you enough to everybody that’s been involved in the projects since the get go. … It is such a big community effort to get these done and I just think we need a huge pat on the back for everybody.”
The Lone Tree project, which is located just north of Swift Current, started in 2006. The durum crop from this land raised $61,287. It was a 59.7 bushels per acre crop and they harvested 9,259 bushels that sold for $662 per bushel.
The project volunteers harvested 6,280 bushels of canola at the Stewart Valley community project, which started in 2008. It was sold at $10.75 a bushel to raise  $67,498.
As a result of a funding agreement between the Foodgrains Bank and the Canadian government, any financial contributions are matched at a four-to-one level by the federal government.
The Grasslands Growing Projects contribution from the 2013 harvest will therefore result in a total financial benefit of over $500,000 to the Foodgrains Bank.
Projects committee member Bruce Pate made a presentation at the appreciation dinner about his trip to Ethiopia in February 2011 to learn more about Foodgrains Bank initiatives in that country.
He noted the Foodgrains Bank has raised $44 million during the 2011/12 financial year, which supported 116 projects in developing countries and benefitted more than two million people.
“The thing I like about this charity is that 95 per cent of the money gets to hungry people,” he said. “So it’s not a whole lot of administration and stuff like that.”
During the food study tour to Ethiopia, where 80 per cent of the people survive on less then $2 per day, he visited Foodgrains Bank funded projects across the country.
“You get to experience a different culture and there’ll be a crop tour,” he said. “It’s just like a crop tour you do here, but you see it developed differently in this developing country. It’s something you’ll never forget.”
He saw a tree planting project where people received food for planting trees to reduce soil erosion on mountain slopes. A beekeeping project is helping people to support themselves and to have enough money for three meals a day.
Another project assists people to start savings groups and there are projects that teach them modern farming practices. A coffee growing project is helping people to buy clothes and build better homes.
In the northern Afar region of the country, the nomadic cattle herders have started to grow crops and a Foodgrains Bank irrigation project is helping to support 650 families.
Pate was impressed with the work done in Ethiopia by Foodgrains Bank to assist people to be more food secure and to improve their education and standard of living.
“We’re all part of a global village and these are our brothers and sisters, justa little further away from us,” he said. “We still have lots to do to help them out because we’re reaching some people but there’s still more people to reach.”
Foodgrains Bank provincial co-ordinator Dave Meyer also spoke at the appreciation dinner. He mentioned many of their projects in developing countries are focused on teaching people about conservation agriculture.
“Just persuading people to respond to the plight of people who are hungry, will not eliminate hunger,” he said. “We must also build a world community where hunger is unacceptable.”
There are 31 growing projects in Saskatchewan on 4,200 acres that raise funds for the Foodgrains Bank. Farmers can also support the charity by donating a portion of their harvest when they deliver their crop to a grain terminal or individuals can make cash donations.
Some of the current Foodgrains Bank projects include relief aid to refugees from the civil war in Syria, emergency support to typhoon victims in the Philippines and projects in countries as diverse as Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Malawi and Mongolia.
“So your community is one of 31 in the province that can tell the difference between night and day and has reached out to help others,” he said. “None of these projects that I’m talking about overseas would be possible if there wasn’t money in the bank.”
The Grasslands Growing Projects will welcome additional committee members. Anyone interested in getting involved can contact Troy LaForge.

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