Ministry is often associated with preaching and teaching. How then, would you ask, can a tractor become a ministry tool? Read on, and you will be surprised.
The TWR transmitter in Benin is located in one of the poorest countries in Africa. Geographically, Benin sits on the southern edge of the Sahara desert and food shortages are common. The people there practice subsistence farming, and a hard year has long-reaching consequences. TWR owns a large parcel of land in Benin, and only a small portion of it is used for the transmitter. The staff in Benin can't ignore the needs of the people around them, and have created some innovative means to help.
To date, TWR staff in Benin have built a dam, planted 18,000 teak trees, 4,000 Moringa trees, and grew maize every planting season. The maize harvest goes to people in need, the trees are left to grow and will be harvested at maturity (approx. 15 years). Moringa trees (also known as the miracle tree) are fast growing and most parts are edible for humans and animals. The high-protein leaves and seeds are easy to grow but need regular maintenance or their rapid growth gets quickly out of hand. Cultivating Moringa trees has been promoted as a way to combat malnutrition and poverty.
Mature white teak trees, like other varieties of teak wood, bring high values for use in carpentry and other woodworking trades for building boats, outdoor furniture, flooring, and decorative veneers. The lake created by the dam provides a major source of water during the dry season, and local women fish in the lake. The harvested trees will bring in needed income for the transmitter station.
This endeavour has proven an effective way to teach local farmers more efficient farming methods.
Most of the work of clearing and preparing the fields is done by hand. Yearly maintenance of the tree crop is done by hand and consequently very limited. A tractor would considerably increase efficiency and maize yield.
Thanks to generous friends of the TWR Canada ministry who have stepped forward and provided funding, the process of acquiring a tractor for our Benin transmitter location is currently under way. Delivery will still take some time, but we at TWR-Africa look forward to sharing with you in the not too distant future some photos and updates about our Canadian-funded tractor in operation in one of the remotest corners of the world. Stay tuned!