Food Security, Sustainable Rice Farming and Equipment

Food Security and Sustainable Farming continue to be constantly in the news.  Climate change and the devastating conflicts it creates between communities and between countries are demanding attention as the natural world struggles to support its existing peoples and perhaps 3 billion additional people over the coming decades.  Earth Links has chosen to address these issues through our work supporting the larger Agroecology Movement, with a focus on sustainable rice production, the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and the System of Crop Intensification (SCI). Over 500 million people grow rice worldwide and they use substantial water resources and chemical inputs. Changes to the dominate farming practices can increase small farmer’s yields and income while decreasing water use and greenhouse emissions

For 2016 we are continuing our work with collecting designs to make farming more efficient for small rice farmers and we will be greatly expanding our work with the development of additional equipment designs and a free on-line database/library of tools for sustainable rice production. These designs are all based on equipment that small farmers, NGOs and researchers have designed and tested worldwide.

Our partners in this SRI Rice work have been SRI-Rice at Cornell University and SRI Global Inc.  In Latin American Countries we have begun providing equipment designs (weeders and field markers) for SRI demonstration projects being started by IICA as an adaption/mitigation to climate change in Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. This work was begun with a a generous grant from Bridging Peace and the Tides Foundation as well as donations to Earth Links from individuals and Three Americas Inc.

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Using Twitter to further our Mission and Fundraising

Although many people may not think of Twitter as a “search engine” this has been an extraordinarily helpful Twitter feature for Earth Links’ need to share information with small organizations in other countries doing work such as native forest protection. We have found these groups are often lost in google searches because of their small web presence but using the Twitter features that suggest other groups, “Who to Follow” or “Search Twitter”, has allowed us to find tens, if not hundreds, of such groups and individuals in a very short amount of time.

If Twitter works for you here are tools that allow you to do things that you may find yourself wishing you could do such as setting a time for your tweet to go out in the future.

10 Insanely Useful Free Twitter Tools for Nonprofits | Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog
http://www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com/blog/2014/01/29/10-insanely-useful-free-twitter-tools-for-nonprofits/

We have only used twitter in a very simple ways but in the future we hope to use it more fully.  For ideas on how to use Twitter creatively we have been looking at these very popular nonprofit Twitter users.

Top Nonprofits on Twitter – Nonprofits With the Most Twitter Followers
https://topnonprofits.com/lists/top-nonprofits-on-twitter/

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Earth Links at International Rice Equipment Meetings

Stephen Leinau was in Malaysia for the SEA Rice Conference and in Thailand for two workshops, one of which was on developing equipment for small rice farmers. Thanks to SRI Global for these pictures and all their work along with SRI-Rice (SRI International Network and Resources Center) and Oxfam.

A special 3 day workshop on SRI Equipment was held post conference at the Asian Centre of Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (ACISAI) at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Pathumthani, Thailand.  Earth Links had a chance to do a presentation on Computer Aided Design of SRI equipment as well as facilitate several working groups focused on prioritizing the equipment needs of small to medium sized rice farmers.  The groups were in agreement that new, inexpensive, locally constructed, small motorized equipment with 50cc to 500cc engines would allow farmers to deal with community food security, labor shortages and the need to raise farmers’ incomes. It was very interesting to have so many participates from around the world sharing their needs needs for equipment development.  Thanks to AIT and all their student staff for their hospitality services and audio visual facilitation.

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Stephen was invited to attend the SOUTHEAST ASIAN (SEA) REGIONAL SRI CONFERENCE held in Kedah, Malaysia in May, 2015 and to give a presentation on “Support for SRI Mechanization and Equipment”. This regional meeting for Asia was a chance to discuss strategies to better support and expand SRI rice rice growing techniques in Asian countries as well as supporting small scale farming, consumer health and farmer market networks. The conference was very well organized and attended and will hopefully serve as a model of regional organization worldwide.

Earth Links hosted a special dinner and presentations for 40 people people who are developing new equipment for SRI rice transplanting, weeding and harvesting.  We would like to especially thank Dr. Anizan Isahak and her staff for all their work and good care.

SEA Equip workshop photo copy

For more information on the conference, please visit: http://www.seacouncil.org/seacon/

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Donations of Equipment and Supplies to Other Nonprofits from Earth Links

By Stephen Leinau, Executive Director

In my thirty years working in the nonprofit world, I have maintained an interest in meeting the needs of nonprofits and their clients with tangible items: work clothes, tools and the various necessities of life. From my tenure as the Director of the Long Island Food Bank in the 1980s, and coordinator of the USDA food distribution program on Long Island, to my work with Earth Links, I have learned from first-hand experience the value of materials that nonprofits need and can put to good use immediately serving people in need.

Volunteer Chris McPherson and donated clothing, 1995

Since its founding in 1991, supporting other nonprofit organizations has been at the core of Earth Links’ mission of “bringing people and resources together.” Through corporate, business, and individual contributions during those twenty five years, Earth Links has donated over one million dollars worth of materials to other nonprofits, including new clothing, software, computers, communication gear (such as satellite phones and ham radios), office supplies, and other items without costs to the nonprofits we serve. These materials have been and continue to be critical to the work of women’s shelters, community development projects, and advocates for indigenous peoples. Given the cuts to local, state, and federal budgets  (as well as economic uncertainties on the horizon), groups are in even more need, and Earth Links would like to continue this work in future.

We are always looking for the financial resources to support our giving of material donations from corporate and small business sources. Each $1,000 donation to Earth Links allows us to solicit, pay shipping and handling, and deliver $10,000 worth of needed items to other nonprofits.

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Insulated coveralls for local farm workers.

 

Donate now to help our continuing efforts to provide people with the resources they need!

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Kids Learn about Water Conservation and Water Security

In 2014 Earth Links, musical duo ZunZun and Raindancer Media released their third Music Video in a series that covers Watershed Awareness, Water Science and Water conservation.

The music videos, H2O Go with the Flow, in English and Spanish, are a fun and effective way to learn about water science and water conservation through Movement and Music.  They are wonderful in the classroom or at home with the family.

Have a kid who wants to help other kids out? After talking with musical duo ZunZun, who work with school children on water conservation and watershed education, we came up with some suggestions for children who want to help communities that need clean, safe water: fundraising for water projects in communities suffering or at risk of water insecurity.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

According to the Millennium Project, 2.4 billion people worldwide live in water-scarce regions, children would be responding to a vital need. Fundraising for these projects (building a well, for example) can be fun and informational: a group of kids or a class can put on a dance marathon or other event. These projects would preferably be specific, at a village or community level and costing less than $1,000 to complete, so that children at one school could take responsibility for raising all the money needed to complete the project. Young people would have the experience of making a real and lasting difference in the lives of other children and their families. The water projects would be identified and managed by a respected nonprofit nongovernmental organization (NGO) that specializes in helping communities develop sources of inexpensive, simple to maintain, community-controlled water.

Our initial research found the following list of NGOs working globally on water projects. We welcome suggestions for other nonprofits doing good work in this area.

  • Drop in the Bucket is an organization that is often mentioned as well run, effective, and welcomes donations by school children.
  • Globalwater has a website that includes stories about students getting involved and their successful fundraising, including ideas for creating fundraising events.
  • The nonprofit a child’s right puts children’s water needs front and center.
  • Philanthropedia has extensive lists of organizations doing water projects and gives recommendations for each organization based on a survey of experts, organizations such as WaterAid, Water for People, IRC (International Water and Sanitation Centre), PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health), Water.org, iDE, and WASH Advocacy Initiative. Please see their excellent website for more details and links. Some of these NGOs are religious, and some do not necessarily focus on water, though they often provide water, sanitation, and hygiene projects as critical parts of more comprehensive, community development projects.
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Coffee Sales and Gift Fair Launch the 2014 SRI Latin American Rice Project

Thank you for helping us celebrate our 2014 SRI Rice and Food Security Project for Latin America.  This special event was was a great success and a perfect kickoff for the Project.  Nicaraguan Fairly Traded Organic Coffee and “Alternative Gift Cards” let many of you share the gift of helping families gain food security and increased incomes by supporting their transition to growing rice using the “The System of Rice Intensification”, SRI.

A special thanks to the Bridging Peace Fund for providing matching funds as well as to Three Americas Inc and several individual donors for making the very generous donations that have made the project financially possible.

The projects partners will include SRI Global Inc, Cornell’s SRI RICE and Earth Links Inc.  After finishing his Masters Degree at  CATIE University in Costa Rica Jorge Acosta Butriago will be coordinating our collective work which will include developing and identifying SRI training materials, starting demonstration plots with small farmers as well as creating social and popular media.  We will provide updates and pictures as the project unfolds.

 

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