On Tuesday, October 24th, my partner, Sarah, the Agriculture Department Coordinator, Gordon, and I drove to a neighboring district called Kashereregyenyi to visit a few farmers that were part of the district's farmer group that were taught about conservation agriculture. Our visit to the mountain top village was to see how their farms were doing and how successful the strategies they've implemented were. Our first family included Justus, his wife, and their children who farmed their large piece of land as a family. After we made introductions in their living room, we headed to the back of the house where they housed chicken and goat pens and a small bee farm. From the animals as well as leftover food items they made two compost piles, and this was the first method they had successfully implemented. For them, this was one of the most important because it fosters soil fertilization for their crops. As we walked a little further, we came to the large fields of Irish potatoes, cabbages and short beans, with grafted avocado trees planted throughout their land. The couple showed us the patch of land with Irish potatoes planted and the difference between the plants that had been mulched (another method implemented by covering soil with decomposable materials around your area) and those that had not. The difference was amazing- those that had been mulched had large, green leaves growing out of the ground, producing potatoes for the family in larger number and size! Gordon informed me that their potatoes will continue to look like that if they continue mulching their soil, as it makes soil stronger and more fertile the more it is mulched. Below the field of planted potatoes was a method used to reduce soil erosion by the rain. By planting papayas, with its strong roots and firmer soil, helps the water running down the mountain side meet some resistance and helps prevent landslides.
|Justus and his wife standing in their field of Irish potatoes|
Our next farmers were Miss Habaasa and Jennifer, both using the mulching technique to protect their soil and crops. Jennifer had planted a few green pepper plants and from her small yield had provided for herself and her friends and made 170,000 Ugandan shillings ($46) from the ones she sold!
|Jennifer's farm overlooking towns below the mountains|
On Thursday of last week, Gordon, Sarah and I got on a boda boda (the name for the motorcycles came from people driving refugees from "border" to "border") and drove to a small village outside of town called Kitumba. Because it was reported that most of the farming land in Kitumba had lost soil fertility, our plan was to meet with Community Extension Volunteers, or CEVs, at a local PAG church to hold a training on making and using good quality manure and also have a devotional time. Deos, the pastor of the PAG church, led our devotional time discussing material from the Timothy Leadership Training he had participated in, including God's plan to restore the world from its fallen nature through our stewardship of the earth and our personal relationship with Him. Gordon then explained how to make manure from both compost and animals, and how to use it for the benefit of plants. Gordon also explained how to make trenches so that usable soil could be saved even in heavy rainfall that occurs almost every day during this rainy season.
|Pastor Deos in his church|
A member of our village called Rwakaraba also came to the meeting as he will soon be the second Agriculture Department Coordinator for 3 districts including Kitumba beginning November 1st. Dan is a member of our church and the husband to one of Sarah and I's mentors, Sharon. Sharon and Dan have a farm on their land and welcomed us into their home on Sunday for lunch, where Dan also showed me the potatoes and maize he has planted to provide for his wife and two children.
|Sarah, Ivan and I at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park|
God is at work in this community of passionate, welcoming people and Sarah and I are so amazed that we get to be a part of that daily, whether working or free-time fun!