This plea is for the lucky ones amongst you who, like me, are fortunate enough to have enough money to give you choices. If your budget affords you few options, this request is not aimed at you – especially as so many of you have already given to our charity partners recently. But if you are one of the privileged few, and want to use your cash to positively influence the world around you, then we could use your help.
Deciding how to put money to the best use is complex; so many charitable interventions have unintended consequences, and you can’t support everything. My own choice is clear, supporting a cause that I have seen the value of first-hand.
20 years ago, provoked by the common argument that “Organic is all very well for the wealthy west, but it will never feed the world,” I spent two months visiting subsistence farmers in East Africa. The second month was spent with a man called Timothy Njakasi, who had previously trained on our farm in Devon, visiting farmers trained by the charity Ripple Effect (then called Send a Cow) in southern Uganda.
It was some of the most inspiring farming I had ever seen. I was astounded by how productive these tiny organic plots of an acre or less could be, with highly complex systems incorporating multi-canopy cropping, water conservation, seed saving, composting, and clever companion planting. The best of these farms were up to 20 times more productive than the poorly farmed monocultures and grazing next door, while delivering food security, improved nutrition, and financial independence.
There were no white aid workers driving fancy pickup trucks, either; Ripple Effect workers were mostly local, peer-to-peer farmer teachers, travelling on small motorbikes to the remote villages where their patient interventions supported lasting change.
Riverford and our customers have supported Ripple Effect ever since, raising over £950,000 so far. We have always pledged our funds to specific projects, but recently learned that the charity faces a ‘triple crisis’ of hunger, caused by Covid-19, soaring living costs, and climate change – while inflation of 30 per cent or more in many African countries, combined with a weakened pound, has eroded their central funding and threatens their programmes. Reading this post by their Ethiopia Country Director made me want to do more.
If any of you are lucky enough to be in a similar position, please join me by donating here. For every £2 you give via this page, I will add another £1 myself.