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Review for Self-Help International, Waverly, IA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Vern Schield, the founder of the Schield Bantam Company, traveled widely in promoting sales of his truck-mounted cranes. He identified a need for appropriate mechanization for farmers in developing countries. In 1959 he founded Self Help International in Waverly, Iowa. SHI built a small tractor and equipment that would plow, pump, generate and transport. This equipment “package” was sent worldwide to missionaries, volunteers and research organizations. I became aware of SHI as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania (1964-67). Efforts to set up in-country manufacturing in Honduras and Pakistan were unsuccessful.

Dr. Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Peace Prize winner as the Father of the Green Revolution, had SHI equipment at CIMMYT, the research center in Mexico. In 1986, the Sasakawa Africa Association ( was formed to introduce the Green Revolution to African countries. The SAA “package” includes improved genetics, available and affordable inputs, marketing assistance and extension support. Ghana was one of the first countries where SAA worked. Dr. Borlaug identified a need for appropriate mechanization and SHI sent 2 tractors and equipment packages to Ghana. This established a long term working relationship between SHI, Dr. Borlaug and SAA. Starting in the 1970s, better equipment with local sales and service support became available in many countries where SHI equipment had been introduced. SHI shifted its programing emphasis from providing equipment to its current programs promoting improved crop genetics (Quality Protein Maize – QPM) and improved ag practices, combating malnutrition, providing potable water, and empowering girls and women with educational opportunities and micro-credit. SHI has developed strong local teams which identify needs and programs to meet them. The SHI annual report documents these successful programs in Ghana and Nicaragua and is available at (

George Cummins- Chair, Trinity United Methodist Church Missions Committee, Charles City, Iowa

Role:  General Member of the Public