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Clarkson’s Farm has diddly-squat to do with us, but…

Farming is hard, as the much-discussed TV show has shown. And it’s harder for people facing a fifth failed rainy season.

Written by Tarryn Pegna | 17 Mar 2023

A woman holding a jar of honey.

Clarkson’s Farm tested beekeeping as a means of diversifying production. Here, Gilberta Yohane in Malawi holds honey produced in her village after Tearfund’s local partner helped the community to start up beekeeping. Credit: Alex Baker/Tearfund

Whatever we may think of the much-talked-about TV show, Clarkson’s Farm has highlighted a very important piece of truth. Farming is hard. Even with state-of-the-art machinery, brow sweat and expert advice, the success – or failure – of an entire crop, herd, flock and, essentially, livelihood, often comes down to factors outside of the farmer’s control. The weather. Too much sun, not enough rain, too much rain. Disease. Predators. Politics. The list goes on.

Clarkson gives us a glimpse into the struggles of other local farmers around him, who are reliant solely on the produce from their land and animals for an income.

Rains that come too early, or too late, or too heavily, or not at all, can destroy a carefully planted crop and remove an entire season’s income for the farmer.

One bad bout of bovine flu can wipe out an entire herd, and result in the loss of a farm and a living.

And whilst we start to understand how incredibly tough it is for the farmers featured on Clarkson’s show, for many farmers in places where Tearfund works around the world, the situation is even tougher.

‘Rains that come too early, or too late, or too heavily, or not at all, can destroy a carefully planted crop and remove an entire season’s income for the farmer.’

Farming in a drought

In East Africa, where Tearfund works in places like Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda to help people release themselves from poverty, a large proportion of the population rely on farming to provide for their families.

Right now, the region is facing the failure of a fifth consecutive rainy season. Crops and livestock have died without enough water. More than 36 million people have been affected, and estimates are that around 22 million people do not have enough food to survive.

More and more families who relied on growing crops and raising animals for food and an income have been pushed into poverty and are facing extreme hunger.

In Ethiopia alone, more than 1.5 million farm animals have died.

And with no income from their farming, many parents across the region can no longer afford school fees – meaning children cannot access education and the opportunities it provides.

‘In Ethiopia alone, more than 1.5 million farm animals have died.’

The fight for land

Whilst Clarkson’s farm workers may be reportedly wearing body-worn video cameras at the moment to feel safer because of local disagreements about the use of the land, this pales into comparison with the level of conflict and danger that desperate disputes over resources can cause.

As the hunger crisis continues in East Africa, it has also made violent rivalry for livestock, water and grazing land more common in some regions. Allan Waihumbu, who is part of Tearfund’s Inspired Individuals programme, is working to help build peace in northern Kenya. He explained, ‘The source of conflict is a fight for food and pasture for livestock. So, when the resources are dwindling or depleted it becomes even more fierce conflict.’

Climate change and finding new ways to farm

Over the past week, on the opposite end of the spectrum to major drought, many thousands of farmers have lost their crops and livestock as Cyclone Freddy wreaked havoc across parts of southern Africa.

The changing climate means that natural disasters are often more intense and more destructive, making farming even more challenging.

Elizabeth Myendo, who leads Tearfund’s disaster response in the region, spoke to Trans World Radio (TWR-UK) about Cyclone Freddy’s impact in Malawi.

You can watch the interview here.

Greater resilience

Tearfund has been working with farmers in places like Malawi to find more resilient ways of farming. By making changes to the types of crops grown, or where they are planted, farmers are supported to find new ways to protect their farms from the worst effects of natural disasters.

Tearfund is continuing to work with communities around the world who rely on farming to provide for their families, to help them step out of poverty.

Find more information about how this works here.

Poverty is not God’s plan. We, his church, are. One of the ways that you can make a difference right now is through prayer.

Please pray with us for farmers facing poverty all around the world

    • Pray for farmers in East Africa who are facing the fallout of a fifth consecutive failed rainy season. Ask God to send rain.
    • Pray for farmers in Malawi and Mozambique, where Cyclone Freddy has damaged crops and swept away livestock. Ask God for provision as the farmers rebuild their livelihoods.
    • Pray for Tearfund’s work to help farmers release themselves from poverty through more sustainable, resilient and productive ways of farming. Ask God to bless the communities as they work the land and that it will be fruitful.

Written by

Written by  Tarryn Pegna

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