Proceeds from 7,000 bushels of hard red spring wheat provided to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank from a 120-acre field near Lethbridge are enough to feed 2,750 people elsewhere in the world for one month.
Such is the effect of foodgrains bank growing projects in Canada, which collectively provide about 60 percent of the annual funds raised by the charity.
The 120-acre field in this case was provided by Viterra near its Lethbridge terminal. The grain company also this year provided land near Trochu, as well as Raymore and Grenfell in Saskatchewan. The land was farmed by local producers, and sale proceeds of the resulting crops were donated to the foodgrains bank.
Viterra also donated $5 for every ton of grain delivered at its terminals through the various prairie growing projects.
“The generosity of the agricultural community in Canada in coming together to help hungry people around the world is an incredible story,” said foodgrains bank chair Ken Kim.
“It never ceases to amaze me.”
Given that finding available land for growing projects is a major challenge, he added, “we are grateful to Viterra for envisioning a way that the land can be used creatively to have an impact on lives of people experiencing hunger.”
The Viterra land near Lethbridge was farmed by Mercer Seeds, owned and operated by Lloyd and Connie Mercer, Ryan and Annette Mercer, and Les and Tammy Bolstad.
Les Bolstad acknowledged that this year’s harvest was a challenge for many in Alberta, and for them as well.
“This year’s crop was a little tough, but we managed to get it off very well and in good condition,” he said.
In an interview, Kim said the foodgrains bank is currently providing assistance to Syrian refugees who have fled the crisis in their home country.
“The population of Lebanon has increased somewhere between 50 to 70 percent because of the influx of refugees coming in from Syria,” he said.
“And inside the country, close to 10 million people have been displaced, and that means 10 million people who have no means of support other than some alternative sources including humanitarian assistance that the foodgrains bank is able to provide.”
People displaced by war and drought in South Sudan, Nigerians displaced by the activities of Boko Haram, and Rohingya refugees flowing into Bangladesh from Myanmar are also recipients of foodgrains bank assistance.
“In all these cases, we are feeding thousands of families every day thanks to the generosity of Canadians, especially Canadian farmers, the supporters in our churches who both pray, give very generously and also make sure that people are aware of some of these challenges that are going on around the world,” Kim said.
“That outpouring of support, it literally means life and death to people. And I’ve seen it from places like Afghanistan all the way to Zambia and many other countries in between.”
In years past, grain grown on the Prairies was shipped to countries in need. Now, however, yields from growing projects are converted to cash and the foodgrains bank uses it to purchase food close to where it is needed.
That is a more efficient response, said Kim, and it is also designed to support local economies.