Through their greenhouse, Elkaz Hussein and his wife are earning a living selling their surplus of peppers and tomatoes. This year, they hope to earn more money by planting strawberries.
Hussein previously had difficulty finding work in Bosnia and Herzegovina because of his refugee status and struggles with mental illness. But now he enjoys greater self-sufficiency through his greenhouse, said a report from the Church’s Europe Central Area Newsroom.
The greenhouse initiative between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Muslim Aid started with 20 greenhouses in 2014. Now they have co-funded 2,720 greenhouses in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Muslim Aid is an international faith-based nongovernmental organization that strives to help the poor overcome suffering in countries throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. Muslim Aid has been in Bosnia and Herzegovina for 15 years.
In 2014, the unemployment rate in the country was as high as 27%. The Church felt it would be most effective to work with Muslim Aid on a project to increase employment through self-reliance and self-sufficiency. They decided on greenhouses.
The greenhouses protect crops from the Bosnian climate, thereby tripling the length of the growing season and doubling the harvest of the plants grown in them. This multiplies the existing opportunities in agriculture and allows families to feed themselves and sell the surplus, reported Newsroom.
Families are given start-up equipment including the greenhouse, irrigation system, seeds and seedlings for their first year of production. They also receive in-person training from a qualified agronomist for fruit and vegetable production and regular monitoring.
Because of these steps, 90% of the greenhouses granted five or more years ago continue to operate.
Haris Alajbegovic has a greenhouse and with it, the peace of mind that he will have healthy food to feed his family. “That’s priceless,” he said.