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ASI Project Reports

Kibdula Farm: A New Harvest

07/15/2014

Since its establishment 25 years ago, Kibidula has become known throughout Tanzania, Africa, for its work in training, evangelism, publishing, healthy lifestyle promotion, and for roofing and building churches. One area the ministry has struggled to succeed in, however, is agriculture. Poor soil, coupled with the fact that the local climate is either extremely dry or extremely wet, with no inbetween, has made farming at Kibidula challenging by any standard. Yet, God has given us this land and a promise that, rightly worked, the soil will yield its treasures.

inside-asi-summer-fall-2014_page_28_image_0001For some years, the few avocado trees scattered throughout various gardens at Kibidula attracted little attention. As time went by and they began to produce more fruit, however, it became obvious that Kibidula avocados were far superior to anything available in the local market. In fact, any visitor to Kibidula might judge our avocados to be some of the best in the world. The challenge has been to replicate what is happening in our small gardens on a larger scale.

The local market primarily features large, watery avocados of every size, shape, and color known among avocados. They are generally grown and harvested on the volcanic slopes near Mbeya, where it rains approximately 11 months of the year. They are harvested way too early, poured into large, 200-pound bags, stacked eight feet deep in trucks, then transported on rough roads for days, hopefully reaching the market before they ripen. At best, they arrive green and cracked, with many visible bruises. At worst, they arrive mashed and rotten. About half of the market avocados rot before ripening.

Recently, ASI joined forces with Kibidula to establish a commercial-sized avocado orchard that will yield dependable yearly income to support the evangelism work that Kibidula has become known for, as well as to help the ministry grow. Project funds were used to install an irrigation set-up that cost approximately $50,000 with shipping. It includes a small dam and a six-inch pipe that will run nearly two miles from the dam to the field. In addition, a comprehensive distribution system using micro-sprinklers has been purchased and is in the process of being installed.

Meanwhile, we’ve added 1,000 avocado trees to the old orchard, planted and grafted 8,000 seedlings in plastic pots, and cleared an additional 25 acres for a new orchard. A small tractor and equipment shed has been built that includes space for handling the fruit during the first few years of development. We’ve already purchased a scale, plastic handling crates, and fruit stickers with our logo in preparation for the initial harvest, not only of avocados, but of hearts won for eternity.