More About the Out-Grower Program

A Narrative Account
The Industrial Revolution that started in Britain in the 18th Century and swept quickly through​ Europe and elsewhere simply never reached South Sudan.
Consequently, mechanized farming was not a reality in that region until just the last few years — hard to believe, but absolutely true.  Most rural people had never even seen a working tractor in their area until very recent times.
Whatever agriculture was being practiced was done entirely by hand-tools and using traditional seed-planting and cultivating methods.  Even with the best of weather, the productivity was sparse.  Little understanding of fertilizer- use or weed-management was available, and no concepts or principles of crop rotation or land improvement were being taught.
Most families approached life on an almost daily basic self-sustenance basis, just barely able in most cases to find or grow enough food for survival — most definitely, there was little excess and literally no large-scale agricultural endeavours in existence for mass-production of food.
Traditionally-planted maize seeded sparingly
with little or no hope of producing a large yield crop.
When first presented​ with the idea of planting maize seeds in rows or closer together to improve survivability and increased yield, local farmers strongly resisted, flatly stating that "It would never work."  It would take DEMONSTRATION to persuade a change.
And it did!
A few "daring" farmers were willing to plant according to our suggestions, and they were amazed at the results.  Word spread quickly, and we were off heading in a good direction.
The next challenge was to try to help them understand that properly-prepared soil, good planting and cultivating procedures, as well as enlarged fields would bring crop-yields that could literally transform their lives.
The notion of "bigger may be better" was an HUGE leap in the cultural context of these people who, for many years never gave serious thought to a long-range future — in fact, the local language did not even HAVE a word that meant "future"!  So the idea of raising enough food for more than just the moment's need was pretty much a foreign concept.
There was certainly NO thought of producing more than was needed for the present or to produce enough excess to perhaps sell. In fact, there were (and still are) powerful cultural biases against such things, most of which are very strange to the Western mind.
After several years of guidance and practical assistance, more than 650 families are now enrolled in the Out-Growers Program and a recipients of what we have to offer:
  • Counsel in modern agricultural methods and materials
  • Assistance in initial plowing of their cleared fields
  • Instruction on efficient harvesting and storage of crops
  • Advice and help in marketing their excess products
Lives and entire communities are being changed...!
Every square foot (or metre) of cleared and cultivated land was precious and cost enormous time and physical labour, especially in the extreme hot and usually dry conditions. The odds of great success in old-style farming have been, and still remain, enormously negative.
Traditional planting of maize, for example, involved placing single seeds in the ground about 2 feet (0.6 metres) apart in every direction.  Such thinly-planted crops had little chance of survival and virtually no chance of signficant yield.  Hot dry winds and beating sun scorched the earth and decimated the stalks.  The results were meagre at best.

It Does Work!

It is Catching On!

Those who are accepting the assistance available through the Program are realizing that the "new ways" actually are more productive than traditional methods.
As Program participants experience the benefits of the plan, and begin to see their efforts actually improve their own lives and the lives of their families and neighbourhoods, the spark fans into flame.