The rural farming communities we help depend on subsistence agriculture. Without financial resources, many live day to day on a survival basis and are victims of annual cycles. There is widespread hunger in the summer, which is compounded in years with lack of seasonal rainfall.
Through our seasonal harvest program, we help communities make food available at discounted prices when supplies are scarce. We buy crops from public markets at harvest time (November through January), and store them until the following summer. In summer, when the price of food in local markets is significantly higher we sell the stored crops at our cost. Through our efforts over the last several years, we have helped many while creating a self-sustaining food bank that supplements local food reserves.
Our grain distribution policies are modified by the need to respond to humanitarian crises. In times of crisis we divide our stored grain into two portions. We seek to preserve half of our grain inventory for our revolving fund, but we also freely distribute grains for life-saving aid for the hungry and suffering. For example, in 2015, the devastation from Islamist militant group Boko Haram created millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria. As part of its “scorched earth” practices, Boko Haram destroyed farms and prevented farmers from planting. In response to the relentless attacks, thousands of farmers had to flee their fields in order to save their lives. We distributed significant amounts of grain resources for relief. Compared to the size of the overall need, our efforts were limited in scope — but they were meaningful. As an example, in January 2016 we received personal thanks from representatives of over 200 displaced families in one distribution area who considered it an absolute miracle to be able to receive food supplies in their darkest hour.
In 2017, the devastating humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria persisted in the form of famine. An estimated 2-3 million northern Nigerians remained cut off from relief efforts by Boko Haram activity. In November 2016 UNICEF warned that millions were malnourished and that 75,000 children may die of starvation in the next few months. Although Borno State has the greatest need, the entire northeast part of the country was greatly affected. Prices for basic food provisions were escalating.