Rockford team returns from farm mission
By Paul Bolstad
A team of combine experts from Our Fathers Lutheran Church in Rockford has returned after a successful 10 day trip to repair and test a John Deere 3300 combine that was sent to Iringa, Tanzania, by the church earlier in 2015.
They also trained local drivers to operate the combine as a mobile thresher/sheller for the upcoming corn harvest season that begins in about July.
Steve Strehlow and his wife Sheri from SJS Farms in Hanover were assisted by Brian Walton; these experts worked to solve a fuel problem, by consulting long-distance with “Pat” of Sharber Brothers, the local John Deere Dealer in Rogers…made possible using a simple Tanzanian cell phone!
Once the team was able to solve the fuel problem, the combine was moved into position at the headquarters of Cheetah Development of Tanzania so that testing and training could begin. The team worked for the better part of two days to work out the best settings for the combine, running ten bags of unshelled corn through the machine…while at the same time training two Cheetah employees in the operation and maintenance of the machine.
It is the hope of the Harvesters of Hope team at Our Fathers that all the farmers who are participating in the innovative production and marketing plan operated by Cheetah Development in Tanzania will benefit greatly in the coming season by eliminating the losses in the traditional “beating with a stick” process of shelling corn, their main food crop. The farm women will also benefit with the elimination of the time-consuming process of hand shelling their improving corn yields.
A special program was planned for Jan.9, at Our Fathers to report to the congregation and supporters of the combine project.