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Manitoba rep moved by trip to Ethiopia

Manitoba rep moved by trip to Ethiopia

Gordon Janzen motivated by efforts to end world hunger

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer

Gordon Janzen, Manitoba regional rep for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, recently travelled to Ethiopia and learned how the program’s fundraising contributes to ending hunger.

“The tour that went overseas was made up of Growing Project leaders as well as a couple of our staff members,” Amanda Thorsteinsson, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank communications coordinator, told today.

“Growing Projects are when groups of farmers and farm supporters get together to grow a crop on either donated or rented land. They tend to this crop together and then at harvest time (the group) sells the crop on the Canadian market.

“The proceeds are then donated to the Foodgrains Bank.

“About 250 of these projects occur across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.”

Janzen and a group of supporters from across Canada were able to see Foodgrains projects firsthand, according to a Canadian Foodgrains Bank release on Monday.

“As a new staff member, I saw the trip as a great opportunity to do two things: one was to connect with supporters on the trip but more significantly, to see the ways that our programs are working with farmers in Ethiopia and making a difference in their lives,” Janzen said to

The participants visited three irrigation projects that turned previously dry and rocky fields, into fertile and productive land.

“It meant that instead of being limited to one rainfed crop, farmers are now able to produce two, and sometimes three, high value vegetable crops each year. For the farmers tending the land, this change is transformational.”

He noticed minimal mechanization on farms, so growers mostly resort to using animal traction and hand cultivation, according to the release.  

But improvements in food production enlightened the group.

They met Kibretu Ayalew, a young farmer working 60 hectares of irrigated fields. The irrigation project has allowed him to improve his family’s diet and receive a higher income.

Janzen and his colleagues also visited World Renew, another Foodgrains Bank member that provides food rations to 4,500 children whose parents were lost to HIV or AIDS, according to the release.

“Our time in Ethiopia was brief, but participants in our learning tour have all returned to Canada with a new appreciation for the people of Ethiopia and our Foodgrains Bank partners there,” Janzen said in the release.

“The most lasting impressions for me, however, are the memories of people who take a small bit of help, and with their own abilities and determination, turn it into a life-changing benefit for their community.”

Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies with a goal to end global hunger. The Government of Canada and Global Affairs Canada help support the program’s efforts.

Harold Penner photo



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