The Great Reversal: a sermon for Harvest Thanksgiving 1 October 2017

Scripture Readings: Exodus 16:2-15

Matthew 20:1-16

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Two stories. The first, from a man who makes his living growing our food.

frank-zulu-pigeon-pea-field-thumbFor Frank Zulu of Chithumbwi village, Malawi, abundant life is in part denied because the rain is no longer reliable. He says: ‘Sometimes it rains heavily and washes seeds away and then it suddenly stops; sometimes it rains very late so our seeds die in the ground; sometimes it doesn’t rain at all.’

The consequences for the maize harvest, and therefore communities, is devastating. Frank says: ‘In Malawi, when we say somebody is hungry, we mean they don’t have maize. When the maize is not in harvest or there are shortages, people starve.’

With support from Christian Aid partner Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), Frank has diversified his crops to include sweet potatoes and pigeon peas, which are better able to survive low rainfalls… However, even with a successful harvest of pigeon peas, the poor market prices for individual farmers prevent Frank and his family from getting a good price for his crops…

Frank and his community [often experiences corruption] at the farm gate where he sells the pigeon pea crop to traders. Often, these middlemen use illegal buying scales and exploit individual farmers. These ruthless tactics have the effect of driving prices right down. For Frank, this is a disaster: ‘Even though I am growing more pigeon peas than ever, my life is miserable because of the low prices offered by the traders. The money is not enough to feed my family or pay school fees for my four children’.[1]

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