The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is marking its 40th anniversary by highlighting the great work it's doing both locally and around the world.
Ontario Regional Representative Henry Reinders said they have a number of growing projects happening across southwestern Ontario.
"The Bluewater Growing Project is one of our larger projects in Ontario that has over 300 acres in production," said Reinders. "They turn the proceeds from that land over to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. We've got the Great Lakes Growing Project, and we've got one in Brigden called the Forget Me Not Growing Project. There are also several others in the area as well."
Reinders said they also provide food assistance to countries overseas, including people in war and conflict zones who have been displaced from their land.
"We don't ship anything from Canada any longer overseas," he said. "All of our food is purchased locally in the countries that we're working in. So, the food assistance is providing food to people who are either in refugee camps or they've lost crops because they've been destroyed by weather events such as hurricanes, cyclones or drought."
Reinders said they've certainly noticed a recent increase in demand.
"Increasing levels of war and conflict have resulted in more and more people becoming displaced from their land and requiring assistance. Climate change has been a big impactor too on many people. Talking to farmers overseas, they're seeing weather patterns are a little bit different. There are bigger and more erratic storms, and it's just become more difficult to grow the food they need. We've also had economic disruptions brought on by things like COVID."
Reinders said they work with farmers to help them understand how to improve their agricultural techniques.
"Maybe teaching them some very simple things like crop rotation or introducing new crops to them that help to build up the soil fertility. Those are very simple things that don't cost a lot of money but can make a huge difference in terms of their overall production. Conservation in agriculture has been a big part of that."
He said they tell farmers to cover their soil with mulch or other plant materials, as it helps preserve the moisture in the ground, and results in the growth of much better crops.
He noted these techniques resulted in a farmer in Malawi seeing an improvement in his yield by about 600 per cent.
Reinders said they're thankful for the support from local farmers.
"This area is well-represented with farmers working to grow a crop and sell the crop with proceeds coming to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. We're certainly very thankful for that. That's been a big part of our heritage over the past 40 years, is farmers supporting the work that we do."
Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working together to end hunger.
In the 2021-2022 budget year, the Foodgrains Bank provided $52.5 million of assistance for 939,447 people in 34 countries.
Assistance from the Foodgrains Bank is provided through its member agencies, which work with local partners in the developing world.
The group recently held spring meetings in Wyoming and Blenheim.