Nebraska family donates grain to help educate farmers in Uganda | TheFencePost.com

Nebraska family donates grain to help educate farmers in Uganda

Nebraska's Endorf family of Tobias, Neb., believes in the dignity of hard work, faith and the value of generosity. When Glen and Jan Endorf ran into college classmates Steve and Faith Meinzen at a reunion and learned about Field of Hope's mission work teaching farming practices to individuals in Uganda and India, the pull to donate was strong.

Field of Hope works to promote youth agricultural education in Uganda to train the next generation of agriculturists in both skills and abilities in the business and technology of modern farming, allowing them to provide for their families as adults. For small landowners, Field of Hope works to educate farmers in northern Uganda. The group of about 160 small landowners are primarily women widowed during violent guerilla warfare under Joseph Kony, who have been able to return to their land.

According to board member Dan Strempke, many of the region's farmers were displaced during the raids by Kony's group, Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that was responsible for terrorizing people across Uganda beginning in the 1990s.

When the women were able to return to their land, he said they had many of the resources available to grow crops to feed their families but were without the knowledge to do so. Field of Hope meets with the women several times per year to discuss crop rotation, pests and other challenges they faced, and the results on their farming operations, typically half an acre to just a few acres in size.

In addition to the small acre education, the group is also developing secondary school agriculture curriculum for students in Uganda and India as well as specialized agriculture training ranging from drip irrigation to tractor operation.

The first year of high school agriculture curriculum is currently being piloted in 10 locations in Uganda with three additional years forthcoming.

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"Long term, we're hoping to influence ag and the development as potentially establishing what can be a middle class in an economy based in agriculture in Uganda," Strempke said.

A BRIGHT FUTURE

With rich farmland, access to water, and a young population interested in agriculture, he said Ugandan students are receptive to the program and the future appears bright.

This training and education in agriculture is one of the things that caught the attention of the Endorf family, who have been farming in Nebraska since the late 1800s.

While it wasn't among the strongest reasons for involvement, the Endorfs recognized the tax benefits to donating but wanted their donation in the currency of their fields — grain. It was their son, Joel, a tax professional who returns to the farm to help with harvest, who guided them through grain donation.

"It's advantageous from a self-employed farmer's standpoint to save money on self-employment taxes," Joel Endorf said. "(The actual grain donation) is in the spirit of the pilgrimage festivals that the old people of Israel used to do."

Given that connection, Endorf said there is a deep spiritual component to giving the first bit of grain harvested. Paired with his modern-day tax knowledge and the family's generous nature and interest in promoting agriculture education abroad, bushels of grain were donated at the local elevator.

"Growing up in a family where my parents are generous, I threw the idea out there and how to execute it from a tax standpoint," he said. "If you want to give something, give grain."

The process itself is relatively simple and requires that the non-profit organization to which the donation is made have an account at the elevator and grain be put in that name upon delivery. Then, the organization, Field of Hope in this case, can sell the grain and utilize the profits to further their cause.

"In theory, they could leave it in storage and wait for better prices but usually the best thing is to sell right away, convert it to cash, and do it that way," he said.

As a fifth-generation farmer, Endorf said his family feels a connection to others teaching and learning about caring for the land that can ultimately care for them. He said they also feel driven to give to an organization that teaches people across the globe, many of whom are in poverty, make a living for themselves.

Field of Hope is slowly branching into India where they have partnered with an orphanage to supply them with the materials and knowledge to utilize a drip irrigation system on their food plot. ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 392-4410.