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Growing projects nearing completion

The final tally isn’t in yet, but 2012 may yet prove to be a record year for revenues generated by growing projects in support of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Good prices and good crops mean higher than ever grain incomes are anticipated, said Harold Penner, CFGB Manitoba resource co-ordinator.

More soybeans and corn, and for the first time, 150 acres of edible beans, a very high value crop, were also sown this year.

“It’s been an excellent year, the best ever for our CFGB Manitoba farm,” he said.

All totalled, over 4,800 acres were seeded, with the majority put in spring wheat (1,638), plus 1,095 acres in canola, the 150 acres in beans, 405 acres winter wheat, 348 acres of oats, 602 acres of soybeans, 70 acres of barley, 305 acres of corn, and 45 acres of hay. There were also additional acreage donations right at harvest.

It won’t be until late in the year or even January when they’ll have the full picture for 2012, but without a doubt it’s indeed been a very good year, added Jim Cornelius, executive director for the CFGB.

Growing projects play a key role bringing in donations to support for CFGB, he said, adding that probably around 60 per cent of the $11 million donations made last year were tied to growing projects.

There are over 200 projects across Canada.

“A lot of cash donations come in because people are aware of these projects. These projects give us the profile.”

They also provide that critically important steady flow of revenue they have to have if they’re to do the kinds of earlier aid interventions needed.

Growing projects faithfully going in the ground every year generates the cash needed for those interventions, lessening their aid agency’s dependency on emergency appeals, said Cornelius.

Last year the CFGB also signed a $125 million funding agreement with the federal government. That cash, combined with steady public donations to the CFGB means there’s money in the bank to get in and help before the crisis reaches the nightly news.

For example, the CFGB has committed more $10 million to help in drought-stricken areas of East Africa’s Sahel, and it was in the region months before media appeals began.

Cornelius noted that emergency aid appeals have brought in around $300,000 to date, and much of it only in recent months. Appeals are important for bringing in much-needed additional resources, he stressed.

“But we’re really working extremely hard to build a support base that’s not dependent on that.”

Early interventions, which include food-for-work programs constructing dams and other drought-proofing infrastructure, not only stave off blown famine from occurring but help communities work together and further bolster resilience.

When hunger and famine set in, subsistence farmers start to sell assets to buy food, including land and livestock, thereby not only reducing their own resources but the overall resilience of whole communities. Then the crisis only deepens, said Cornelius.

“If you wait for high levels of hunger, you’re already too late. What we want to do is get resources in so it doesn’t lead to that.”

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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