April 17, 2018
As I travel around the world and visit farmers and other agricultural partners, my appreciation of farmers and respect for them grows ever stronger. Every day I learn more about what farming represents, not only for farmers but also for all of us as consumers. We depend daily on farmers and farms yet often do not get glimpses of their daily realities or struggles. Many farmers find themselves living in poverty and being affected by hunger. In 2015, three United Nations agencies reported that most of the 795 million people worldwide who don’t get enough to eat are in fact farmers.
In January, I visited with farmers in Sri Lanka whose land had been forcefully taken away during years of civil war in their country. Since then, Sri Lankan farmers have had a hard time providing for themselves and their families. They shared stories about the abundance of food they used to produce, the streams of water near the villages that allowed them to irrigate their farms, and the overall ease of access to water for daily use. Without their land, it has been difficult to meet basic needs and to establish a sense of belonging and community.
These Sri Lankan farmers echo what I see and hear all around the world as I meet with farmers. Farmers feed the world! Yet farming is not always perceived as a “dignified job,” and society rarely gives the recognition farmers deserve.
Meanwhile, apart from the availability of land, farmers face many other challenges: losing access to native seeds (that have been the basis of agriculture since the beginning of creation), no access — or very limited access — to capital, and the effects of climate change (which often destroys their production and means of living).
Farming is a way of living and a way to multiply life. Through generations, farmers have mastered the equation that caring for the soil, maintaining good seeds, and hard work produces bounty. They are the reason we find food in markets and are able to nourish ourselves and our families. May we, in gratitude, stand with them in their struggles, listen to their stories, and act in solidarity.
Valery Nodem, Associate for International Hunger Concerns, Presbyterian Hunger Program
Today’s Focus: International Day of Farmers’ Struggles
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Gracious God, we pray for farmers both here and around the world who produce the life-giving food that nourishes our bodies. We give you thanks for their wisdom, labor, and honor. We ask that you continue to strengthen the bodies and souls of farmers as they struggle for lives filled with dignity and justice. We pray also that you give us the courage to stand in solidarity with them in their struggles. Amen.