FARMS International and a venture into organic farming

The Philippines (MNN) – In many parts of the world, organic farming is more than just a trend. It has the potential to greatly improve lives. Today, we’re not just talking about healthy eating, but about sustainable farming practices that can actually serve to fight poverty.

Joe Richter of FARMS International has a wonderful example of this from the Philippines. He says, “Organic farming is very popular in the United States and other countries, too. And the Philippines is not unusual in that respect, that people are looking more at the quality of their food and the nutritional value of their food and also the natural ways of growing things.”

Organic farming methods were first utilized in the FARMS Philippine project by a young pastor named Vic.

Vic (Photo courtesy of FARMS International)

Vic grew up in Aguilar, Philippines and became a Christian at a young age. Eventually, God led him into ministry in the Masbate Province where he met his wife and started a family. Given his background in agriculture, he combined outreach of the Gospel with teaching sustainable farming practices to the locals. However, the regional poverty was a constant struggle and eventually, Vic and his family moved back home to Aguilar. But God already had something planned for him there.

When Vic and his family moved back to Aguilar, the FARMS program had just taken off. Vic’s father, mother, and sister were already involved, and it seemed like it would be a good fit for him and his family.

Back in Masbate, Vic saw moneylenders take advantage of those in need of financing for farming. Some three-month loans even came with a 100 percent interest rate. And because life was so difficult in this area, many families had to split up while parents looked for income elsewhere.

FARMS approaches loans quite a bit differently. Their interest-free microloans are distributed through local church committees. They help families begin or improve sustainable income-generating projects. When the loan-holder begins to make a profit off their project and are able to pay back the loan, they agree to tithe from the profits, strengthening their local church’s ability to reach the local communities with the Gospel.

Vic’s first loan with FARMS helped him to start a laying duck project. Many other projects followed, allowing him to adequately provide for his family and even send his three children to school. And over the years, he’s learned a lot more about sustainable and effective farming.

Today he grows okra, corn, squash, taro root, and much more. He also raises pigs and cows and is always looking for the next sustainable project to begin. He’s collecting a wealth of information on organic farming. But, Vic still has a heart for those struggling to provide for their families. He doesn’t want to keep his success in organic, sustainable farming to himself.

Richter says, “He really wants to expand that for himself and also, he has a vision to train other pastors and Christians in his area in the methods of organic farming. And he has done a lot of experimenting and he’s been very industrious and he finds that organic vegetables and organically grown animals actually provide a better income for him than putting great amounts of money into pesticides and inorganic fertilizers and foods for animals that are not organically grown.”

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Aguilar, Philippines. (Photo courtesy of The Muddled Corner via Flickr)

In particular, Vic wants to be able to bring these practices to self-supported pastors like himself, other FARMS loan-holders who are pursuing similar projects, the poor, and even school youth.

“He would like to establish an organic agricultural training site in his home village where we’ve had a FARMS program for over 10 years. And, he believes this approach is a real viable way of teaching self-sufficiency and crop and animal raising and other useful horticultural skills.”

FARMS is walking alongside Vic to help make this dream a reality:

“FARMS’ emphasis is on our loan program, but we feel this really dovetails with what we’re doing and are wanting to encourage Vic in this project and to have other people know about it that might want to come alongside him in this endeavor.”

Richter says if you have an interest in bringing organic farming methods to families in need, consider contacting FARMS here to talk about how you can help. You can also call +1 888 993 2767 for more information.

If you’d like to support FARMS’ global microloan program, click here.

Ask God to bless Vic as he seeks to grow his holistic ministry. Pray that through this project, others would come to know the Lord.

Also, join Vic and the FARMS’ team as they pray for opportunities to bring this program to Masbate.