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New manual uses faith-based approach to encourage conservation farming in sub-Saharan Africa

Malawian farmers. Creative Commons: Find your Feet, 2007

Malawian farmers. Creative Commons: Find your Feet, 2007

A new faith-based farming manual seeks to strike a chord with millions of Muslim farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s part of an effort to cultivate some of the least fertile areas on the planet which are getting even worse because of climate change.

This innovative approach to conservation farming aims to help farmers have a better sense of climate change’s threat to food security and how to better mitigate these outcomes. Currently, many sub-Saharan Africans rely on agriculture to sustain themselves, and are mostly living in areas that are “arid or semi-arid and vulnerable to droughts and floods.” With close to 248 million Muslims living in the region, this publication, titled Islamic Farming, focuses on conservation agriculture all the while encouraging the application of Islamic teaching principles in farming practices, such as caring for the earth.

“We have millions of people going without food because forests have gone, animals disappeared, soils destroyed and a huge loss of biodiversity,” explained Abdulghafur El-Busaidy, professor and national chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims, SUPKEM.

The “toolkit” is structured into a six-step curriculum based on the Islamic concept of “Rizq,” livelihood. It outlines six additional principles that draw on Islamic teachings: plan, prepare, plant, provide, protect and produce.

“Approximately 80 percent of all Africans depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods and survival,” said Sam Adams, a former farmer in Africa and a trainer in conservation agriculture techniques, currently working with the Alliance of Religions and Conservation. “Islamic Farming has been developed with these farmers in mind. The toolkit addresses poverty, food insecurity, climate change mitigation and environmental conservation.”

According to Husna Ahmad, the chief executive of Global One 2015, this publication is among  multiple efforts from other faith groups looking to encourage sustainable farming practices in Africa.

“We believe this would be the beginning of a faith-based movement to help our farmers grow more food,” she said,  “while also protecting the environment and conserving their soils.”

 

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