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Agriculture

A woman from Kabekel village in The Gambia watering her okra plants.

A woman from Kabekel village in The Gambia watering her okra plants. Photo by Sean Sprague for CRS.

Catholic Relief Services works through local partner agencies to implement agriculture and environment programs for the poorest farm families and rural communities worldwide. CRS' immediate goal is to improve family well-being through agro-economic development and environmental stewardship. The agency's long-term goal is to strengthen the capacity of local agencies and farm communities to take control of their own development.

"Working as an agriculture advisor at Catholic Relief Services is more satisfying than any other job I've held, because I can have a positive, direct impact on the quality of CRS' agriculture programs and thus on people's lives."

— G. Burpee, Director of CRS' Technical Support Unit

Who Do These Activities Reach?

CRS and its partners work with the poorest farm families and communities, as well as with laborers, the landless, communities suffering from HIV and AIDS, and victims of manmade and natural disasters in 51 countries worldwide. As landholding size and production decreases in many countries, seasonal migration by men increases, which means CRS is working with more women farmers and young adults. We also collaborate with national and international agricultural research institutes to make sure that new technologies and practices are available to our farmer partners.

"Before the women's vegetable garden project, no one here would talk to me.[Single mothers are stigmatized and ostracized in Cambodian society.] Now the other women are my friends, and it is not so hard raising my children alone and enduring the loss of all my family."

— Farmer partner who is a widow and Khmer Rouge victim, Cambodia.

CRS works in many isolated, remote areas with harsh climates and fragile, degraded ecosystems. These areas were not farmed in the past because of undependable, hostile climates and poor natural resources, but are farmed now because the poor have no other option.

Background of CRS' Agriculture Program

Small family farms in the tropics face increasing difficulties such as global warming, increased competition for limited resources (land, water, etc.), natural disasters, and wars, as well as the negative impacts from more complicated issues such as biotechnology, geo-politics, the information age, and global marketplaces. All have left the illiterate poor marginalized and forgotten.

Increasing problems mandate increasing change and innovative responses by farmers and the agencies that support them. CRS has stepped in to meet these challenges head on.

Technical Partners and Donors

CRS' agriculture work is supported by a number of individuals and organizations including:

  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • The European Union
  • The United Nations World Food Programme (UNDP)
  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • The Inter-American Development Bank

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