Ikengo Agricultural Center
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Church of Christ of the Congo - Democratic Republic of Congo
Since 1997, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC; formerly Zaire) has suffered a civil war that has devastated the country, partially caused by the serious influx of refugees from the fighting in Rwanda and Burundi. After years of fighting and peace negotiations, an agreement was finally signed in December of 2002 to end the war and establish a government of national unity. However, the economy of the DRC has declined drastically since the mid-1980s and worsened as a result of the war. Conflict, lack of infrastructure, and other factors have caused many foreign businesses to end operations in the DRC, worsening the country's ability to support its people.
It is estimated that 3.5 million people have died from fighting, famine, and disease since the beginning of the war. An estimated 1.1 million people in the country are living with AIDS, a figure that drives infant mortality and death rates among the highest in the world. There are more than 200 African ethnic groups in the DRC, most of which are Bantu. The four largest tribes [Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic)] make up about 45 percent of the population. About half of the people of the DRC are Roman Catholic. The other half of the population identifies as Protestant (20 percent), Kimbanguist (10 percent), Muslim (10 percent), or subscribes to other sects and indigenous beliefs (10 percent).
The Ikengo Agricultural Center was established by the Community Disciples of Christ in Congo (CDCC), which has related to Global Ministries for over 100 years, in order to make the best possible use of available farmland. The objectives of the Ikengo Agricultural Center are to:
- nourish and sustain the Congolese people;
- employ the Congolese people through agricultural work;
- build the infrastructure needed to support the Congolese people.
The farm's primary focus to date has been livestock activities (hog, duck, and chicken-raising) and crop growing activities (truck gardening activities and food crop activities).
Farm managers and members of the CDCC have laid out a strategic plan to maximize the assets of the land. This plan includes:
Livestock Objective: Ability to sell pork products and eggs
- complete construction of a duck house and chicken house
- purchase of an outboard motor
- purchase a kerosene refrigerator
- purchase of two sows, ducks, chickens, and several hogs for fattening
- purchase enough feed to sustain livestock
- buy veterinary products
Food Crop Objective: Ability to sell produce
- develop area for growing food crops
- buy seeds
- grow new food crops
Farm Workforce Objective: Ability to employ local people in agricultural opportunities
- negotiate salary contracts with workers
- finalize the number of employees needed for the project and hire day workers as necessary
- establish standards for the recruitment, training, and evaluation of the workers
As a result of these objectives, the Ikengo Agricultural Center will be able to achieve greater impacts of supporting the nourishment and economic stability of the local people in its area.
Currently, Ikengo Agricultural Center is planning for the installation of a small storehouse for veterinarian services and care. Raising of small and large animals and poultry has been on the rise in this geographic area. Because epidemics among animals are common and veterinary products are not available locally, the CDCC has identified a need to create a veterinary repository in Mbandaka. This will provide access to veterinary products which before were previously unavailable to farmers in the region. This will also serve as an income generating activity for the CDCC for its Ikengo Center.
The proposed budget for the veterinary repository includes about $1,000 for the structure itself, $2,000 to purchase a petroleum refrigerator for storage, and up to $7,000 for various veterinary products that will include antibiotics, medication for internal and external parasites, anti-inflammatories, vitamins, and vaccines. The budget is $10,000 but will be adjusted to do a little at a time in order to begin the activity.
Global Ministries has been a supporter of the Ikengo Agricultural Center for many years, and continues efforts to support this important work.