Foreign aid in rural Congo has been painfully fruitless so far. The soil deteriorates, erosion worsens, sickness and disease increase and agriculture production decline.  The divide between the poorest and the less poor widens. Millions of impoverished families pay the price, falling into deeper poverty and becoming more and more vulnerable.

Many foreign aid organisations have recommended new agricultural techniques, hoping to make a difference, but none have succeeded. The question is why? Are poor people too lazy, or too stupid to learn? Do they not have a vision for their future? Or are they afraid of change? None of these are the case. Poor farmers in Congo work hard, are eager to learn and dream of a better future.

”New agriculture techniques only work when they resonate with the reality of the poor, which is complex, and only understood by spending time with them. By living, working, and sharing life with them, you discover what will and will not work. ” 

Roelof van Til

The 4 Pillar method is hugely successful, the farmers speak of an ‘Agriculture Revolution’. As a result, their crops are more productive, they have higher income, more food and farming is more sustainable and resilient. There are still some elements of the method which need to be researched and developed. The method also needs to be captured and described effectively and incorporated into national policy and the work of other non-governmental organisations. And needs to be adjusted to local contexts. Any development of the 4 Pillars will be done in close collaboration with the poorest farming families.

”Through the 4 Pillar method, young people regain a vision for farming. Instead of turning to armed theft and robbery, they will be able to live a decent life from agriculture. I will personally advocate the spread of the 4 Pillars.”

General of the Army

Roelof and Remke van Til

Roelof and Remke van Til have lived in rural Congo for many years. They highly respect the poorest people, with whom they developed the 4 Pillar method. The method combined the highest level of expertise, years of experience and a deep understanding of the issues faced by the poorest families.