M anica province in central Mozambique is one of the most fertile provinces in the country. But half of the population lives with chronic malnutrition, mostly due to poor farming techniques and a lack of agricultural technology. New Harvest Farm, launched in 2018 by RCA missionaries Chad and Dara Vanden Bosch, seeks to bring change by helping small-scale farmers increase their yields and produce better food for their families. The 25-acre experiential learning center offers hands-on agricultural training specific to the region and weaves the gospel into each training session.
“It is our hope that not only will the farmers learn some techniques to increase their yields and profits, but that we would also be able to build relationships that will till the soil of their hearts to receive the gospel [so that] there will be a new harvest of souls,” says Chad.
E arly challenges at the farm included nutrient-leached soil, brush-covered fields, and thousands of stumps needing to be removed. Then, in March 2019, just five months after New Harvest Farm came to fruition, Cyclone Idai devastated Mozambique with strong winds and torrential rain. One million acres of farmland were completely underwater, causing one million people to become dependent on food aid. Amazingly, New Harvest Farm’s terracing and planting methods minimized the damage Idai wreaked on the farm. In response to the crisis, New Harvest ramped up its efforts to assist the local farmers, providing access to seeds and some basic agricultural training.
“We didn’t understand the Lord’s timing in all of this, but maybe this is what it was all about,” says Chad. “People are open to new ideas and opportunities in agriculture—things that can help them to prevent losses like they had [last] year.”
As their second harvest season approached, New Harvest Farm weathered drought, worms, more stumps, sudden onslaughts of rain, and massive erosion. But these hardships—the undoing of months of work—cannot unravel the hope for harvest that exists at the farm.
“The reality is that we have faced some major challenges, yet through it all, we do see the Lord’s hands at work.”
—Chad Vanden Bosch
J ust a day after the cyclone, Chad walked around New Harvest Farm with Salvador, one of the workers who came from a tradition of ancestor worship. Though Salvador had attended Bible studies as part of the farm’s program, Chad had never heard him speak about God. As Salvador surveyed the land and its relatively little damage, he turned to Chad and said, “God is with us!”
“For him, it was seeing God’s hand in the mundane of agriculture that finally broke down his barriers,” says Chad. “I consider this man the first fruits of the farm, and I pray that there will be a greater harvest to come!”