Irish charity helping African farmers help themselves

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Self-Help Africa are calling on Irish farmers to help their African counterparts this Christmas.

Ronan Scully of the charity - which has been working in Africa for more than 30 years -recently led a trip to Kenya, Eritrea and Ethiopia to highlight the strong links Irish farmers have with African farming communities.

"Agriculture was and remains vitally important to the lives of the people and to the economy of Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia and indeed to all of Africa," he says.

"Nearly everyone you meet depends on agriculture for their very survival."

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For Ronan, a highlight of the trip - which included Glenisk Yogurt owner Vincent Cleary, and businessman Paul Galvin - was when the group got to visit the Kerringet Creamery Co-operative Union, a dairy and horticultural co-operative that traces its origins back to the 1980s, when the Irish public, through the IFA, Glenisk Yogurt and Irish Aid, supported communities affected by drought.

"Irish farmers responded by organising a shipment of 2,000 tonnes of seed potatoes to farmers in Ethiopia, and through the work of Self Help Africa backed horticultural and irrigation projects in the same region of the country," he says.

"The Kerringet Co-operative is now working with 10,000 local farmers, and a lot of them are women farmers. This has given them access to markets and better prices for their produce."

Despite these positive steps, Ronan stresses that farmers in these African communities need more help than ever before as they are feeling the effects of climate change and political unrest.

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With this in mind Self Help Africa is hosting a Christmas Extravaganza concert in the Tullamore Court Hotel, Co Offaly on December 4.

The concert will include tribute to Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond. Other beneficiaries are Riada House Comfort Fund and Mary's Meals.

Tickets are €25 and can be purchased at the door, from the local charities or at the hotel.

For information on the event contact Ronan Scully on 087 6189094. For further information on Self Help Africa or to donate, visit selfhelpafrica.org

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