[Thought Piece] Bible, Farming and RUFORUM: Promoting Integration of Farming and Theology in RUFORUM


Preamble

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, He will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5-6.

Whatever we do on earth including farming, it is supposed to be done for the sake of God’s glory and for man’s pleasure and prosperity. God is pleased when he sees man doing things right with nobility. Not many people however, take farming as a biblical noble task and vocation. For a long time, many people have thought farming is to be done just as one of those things that a human being ought to do to find food and money to earn a living. Such being the case, they have often times not been theocentric. They have done farming irresponsibly by following their own decisions without seeking the face of God. They have done it without considering that harmful farming practices may affect the environment. But farming is more than just farming. Recently there has been a paradigm shift. There is an advocacy to turn away from such thoughts and practices. There is an embarkation on innovativeness to propagate proper modern methods of farming that are restorative, sustainable and more productive.

This “Thought Piece” aims at appreciating RUFORUM’s initiative focusing on the incorporation of faith institutions like University of Livingstonia, which appreciate the integration of their operations with theology. The inclusion enriches RUFORUM agenda of promoting innovativeness in agriculture sector. This paper is a religious contribution to encourage members to appreciate that their contribution to RUFORUM agenda is godly. University of Livingstonia (UNILIA), a faith-based University under Synod of Livingstonia of Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) is excited to be part of RUFORUM. Its registration in RUFORUM fraternity in December 2021, at a Board Meeting during Annual Conference held in Cotonou in Benin is not taken for granted.

Unilia’s Vision, Mission Statement and its Potential to Collaborate with RUFORUM

University of Livingstonia was founded in 2003 to fulfill the dream conceived by a missionary Rev Dr Robert Laws in the late 1890s. It started with only one faculty; Faculty of Education with 35 students doing Bachelor of Education. Currently it has about 3,000 students drawn from across the country spread in three campuses Laws, Ekwendeni and Kaning’ina with a total of 8 faculties, with Faculty of Agriculture as the newest faculty.

To understand and appreciate UNULIA’s unique academic contribution to the society and how it resonates well with RUFORUM’s agenda one has to be familiar with its vision and mission statement. The University’s vision is to be “a vibrant centre of academic excellence guided by Christian values and ethics”. Its mission statement is “to inspire leaners through relevant education, quality and innovative teaching, research and consultancy, and learning environment, the University of Livingstonia shall develop principled leaders who will transform society for the glory of God”. The innovativeness is what RUFORUM is advocating and is well expressed in its mission statement “….to foster innovations responsive to demands of small holder farmers through the training of high-quality researchers….”. RUFORUM envisions vibrant, transformative universities catalysing sustainable, inclusive agricultural development to feed and create jobs and good economy for African countries.   

As a Christian institution UNILIA did not just embark on Agriculture programmes as one of the many programmes in the University. It wants to contribute to the welfare of the people of Malawi and the economy of the country. It is complementing to what other Universities like Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUNAR) are doing. UNILIA strongly believes in biblical farming; farming in God’s way. The University is deliberately instilling in students’ knowledge and skills the Christian values that are important in agriculture through its subjects, such as Christian Living courses, theology of ecology, which include conservation of natural resources that God provided for humanity’s use. It is also interesting to note that many biblical metaphors including that of garden of Eden, point to this kind of farming where humanity is asked to take care of the land, which I believe is conservation agriculture. This calls for application of principles of agriculture which looks at values like health, ecology, fairness, and care of natural resources[1]. Researchers in universities are meant to address this. They are involved in research so that they feed governments and industries with their findings so that relevant methods of agriculture are applied. UNILIA is pleased and appreciative to note that RUFORUM focuses its work on promoting agricultural enterprise and innovativeness in Africa so that at one point, among other things, Africa people will be self-sufficient in food production, food security and nutrition. This will in the end improve the economy of the continent. It will also transform the lives of people. Healthy people are instrumental in the development of countries. UNILIA considers RUFORUM agenda to be an important initiative which universities and colleges in Africa have to appreciate, embrace and support by all means. UNILIA was motivated to join RUFORUM because of this profound cause, and it will be useful in encouraging RUFORUM institutions to integrate knowledge and faith in God who is the Master Farmer.


[1] That that advocate for Farming God’s way in countries like Holland will look at these values to be inclusive and holistic.

Please read and download the complete thought piece here

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