Remy Schiffeleers from 'De Levende Aarde' (The Living Earth) goat farm in Alken tries to make a small contribution to help eradicate hunger in his own way.
Remy Schiffeleers, farmer
Exchange and traineeships with farmers from the South
It is fundamentally unjust that people have to suffer from hunger.
Worldwide, 950 million people suffer from hunger, twice as many people suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and 186 million children show clear signs of malnourishment. At the same time, more people than ever are overweight, and Europeans waste 179 kg of food each year on average. This is something I find fundamentally unjust. From De Levende Aarde goat farm in Alken, I have been trying to do something about it in my own way for more than thirty years.
Belief in yourself
It was my experience in Africa in particular which prompted me to farm using different principles. When I was 25, I thought I needed to go and help the poor little Africans. So I set off for Burkina Faso, where I found out that it was all quite different to what I had imagined. I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to help reduce hunger in the world, I had to start at home.
That is why, thirty years ago, I decided to set up integrated, family-based farming myself. With a relatively small-scale goat farm in a closed circuit. This practical experience gave me the foundation to transfer knowledge to farmers from all over the world. As such, I set up Trakomula, which stands for TRAining & COnsulting MUndiale LAndbouw (Training & Consulting Worldwide Agriculture). It is a non-profit organisation which aims to achieve sustainable agriculture in practice, together with people. The main objective is to promote self-belief among trainees, regardless of their origins. I am convinced that self-belief can only increase if you see that your project actually works.
Over the years, I have visited a lot of countries in the South. Along the way, you see that many people you come in contact with are afflicted with 'development aid thinking', in the sense that they mainly think of 'getting' when they see a white person. However, we apply a principle of 'learning knowledge and understanding in practice'. Instead of equipment and money, we provide internships and a network. A farmer in the South, who is often unable to read or write, can only understand an agricultural model if he can see, feel and smell it. I also believe that it should be possible to replicate any initiatives demonstrated. Every farmer should be able to copy what is shown.
I also believe that it should be possible to replicate any initiatives demonstrated. Every farmer should be able to copy what is shown.
The biggest issue for the future of agriculture is how we can improve humus levels in the ground. In my opinion, the solution is dairy goats kept in stables, fodder legume crops, and a lot of manure. That is why I advocate for an agro-forestry system, or a combination of agriculture with trees. In this way, you can ensure that productive trees provide shade in the field. Or you can use trees which serve as cattle feed. In the intermediate strips of land, you can then grow millet, corn or sorghum, groundnuts or beans. In the dry season you can grow vegetables. I believe that vegetable growing needs to be intensified, given the increasingly frequent droughts.
In addition, many other factors deserve extra attention. For example, I am a strong believer in animal traction. After all, a pack animal eats what you grow yourself and in turn produces manure that you can use on your own fields. In my opinion, these insights can make a major contribution in the fight against malnourishment.
0499-30 27 63