Sustaining Communities through Farming
How do you reverse the tide of generational poverty in a country where nearly 90 million people suffer from it every day? You start, literally and figuratively, by teaching young people how to fish—which is exactly what Salesian missionaries are doing at St. Joseph’s Farm in Sagamu, Nigeria.
Developed in October 2021 with funding provided by Salesian Missions, this small yet growing program comprises more than 60 acres of workable land sited in a region perfectly suited for agricultural and aquafarming production. Missionaries launched the farm in response to a widespread lack of formal education and high rates of unemployment among area residents.
“They saw an opportunity to develop practical training tailored to local needs—training that could uplift the entire community,” explains Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions.
In other words, St. Joseph’s Farm could help create a sustainable and scalable economic engine. It would teach participants how to grow crops and raise animals, both of which they could sell in order to support themselves. Residents would benefit from having a local source of nutritious food, which would improve their standard of living. And increasing demand for agricultural products would drive growth and create new employment opportunities for even more people.
By all early accounts, this vision is proving fruitful. Forty eager students, many of them young women, participated in St. Joseph’s inaugural program just over a year ago. These aspiring small farmers learned hands-on techniques for improving their yields and revenue. In the time since, 60 more students have trained at St. Joseph’s, with even more lined up to enroll.
The farm itself is expanding and diversifying, too. A new on-site fishery and pig-raising operation provide additional training and employment opportunities for even more youth. Six paid workers currently manage the facilities—constructed with support from generous donors of Salesian Missions—and they also care for the fish and pigs.
“At St. Joseph’s Farm, students are gaining the relevant knowledge and skills they need to stand on their own two feet, and on solid financial ground,” Fr. Tim says. “And this is the essence of Salesian education around the world.”
Learn more about our work in Nigeria.
Our mission teaches agricultural and aquafarming skills to help sustain communities. What’s your mission?