HomeTop StoriesSuffolk supports Tanzanian farmers fighting climate change

Suffolk supports Tanzanian farmers fighting climate change

Churches in Suffolk are raising money to help farmers in Tanzania combat the effects of climate change.

The Lent Appeal of the Bishops in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich pays for training and equipment in Kagera.

The Church and Community Mobilization Process (CCMP) in Tanzania also provides seeds for drought-resistant crop varieties.

“We are seeing climate change with our own eyes,” said CCMP leader Thomas Shavu.

“There is a lot of evidence; streams are disappearing; potatoes, cassava and bananas, they are getting blight.

“Farmers struggle to know when to plant their crops.”

Farmers in Tanzania work on a strip of land with forest in the background

Farmers in Kagera say the seeds supplied are stronger and more resistant to diseases, ensuring high yields

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a United Nations body – has said it is “indisputable” that human activities are causing climate change.

Mr Shavu said: “They used to know that this is the planting season, this is the weeding season, but nowadays no one knows.

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“The rain may come early, but then stop. When you plant, the plants dry out. Or you plant late and the rain continues.

“Sometimes it is very heavy and causes flooding, or it is accompanied by wind and destroys the crops.”

The Church of England in Suffolk has had a partnership with the Diocese in Kagera since 1994, with regular exchange visits.

Last year’s appeal raised £25,000 and the diocese said it reached more than 50 villages, teaching new farming methods, supplying seeds and saplings and training people to build rainwater tanks.

It also paid for the training of a local doctor in ophthalmology, provided scholarships to students in theology and bought motorcycles to help priests get around their parishes.

Rev. Mark Bee and Bishop Mike Harrison stand in front of a mural on an African school wall with images of students and colorful writingRev. Mark Bee and Bishop Mike Harrison stand in front of a mural on an African school wall with images of students and colorful writing

The Rev. Mark Bee and Bishop Mike Harrison visited schools, farms and churches during a two-week visit

Last month Reverend Dr. Mike Harrison, Suffragan Bishop of Dunwich, Kagera along with eight pastors and ministers from Suffolk.

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At the end of the two-week trip, he said, “The priests who came here are going back, and now that they are inspired here, they are inspiring the congregations of which they are a part.

“Every person inspired by this link becomes a thread, if you will, a little thread that fits together.

“And as those threads come together, we make it into a strong rope that becomes something that strengthens the bond between us.”

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