Thank you to everyone who supported us and helped make the trip possible. Thank you also to everyone who prayed for our safety while we were away.
While visiting with the group leadership, Samuel the group leader, shared with us that his youngest son was sick with a case of malaria. Thankfully, he was able to see a doctor and get the appropriate medications. In 2017 we saw sustained growth in the farming output that has allowed parents to afford healthcare. This together with the field training provided by our employee (Frank), has allowed the farming group to sustain their growth and better provide for their families.
We are looking to further help farmers diversify their incomes and continue to mechanize their farming activities.
While in Rwanda we got some great feedback from farmers on where they would like to see more growth in 2018
Some of our shared goals for 2018 include:
- Encouraging a savings culture: now that most farmers have checking and savings accounts. We will encourage farmers to save more of their incomes.
- Exploring the possibility of using a rife ram pump. Preliminary research show that this might be a possible solution for the future. We will be sharing more about this in the future. More information here.
- Food preservation methods for farmers to further reduce food waste.
- Find better option for seed and fertilizer supply by communicating with the government and suppliers to find better options.
- Get BUV classified for Agricultural use by the government so more farmers can have access to affordable farm to market transportation.
BUV arrived safely in Rwanda
The BUV traveled safely from Arusha, Tanzania to Kigali, Rwanda. We had some unexpected transportation costs that we were thankfully able to cover.
Getting the BUV classified for agricultural use
We are currently working with government officials to have the BUV correctly classified as agricultural equipment and have the appropriate traffic regulations set up. This step is particularly important to the future of the BUV because this would allow farmers across Rwanda to have access to affordable farm to market transportation.
We believe utility vehicles are the future of affordable transportation in rural Africa
With the low price tag and rugged features, we believe utility vehicles are the future of farm to market transportation in rural Rwanda and Africa in general.
Once the vehicle is classified and released, we will begin field testing to establish viability and safety. There is still a long way to go before farmers across the country can have BUVs for transportation but we have made great achievements towards that goal.
Farmers are adopting more efficient farming methods
We had a great trip to Rwanda. We were able to visit the farms once again and see the incredible year over year progress. We also spoke to group members about the past year and how their goals for 2018.
We are encouraged by the optimism we see and we look forward to build on that. The continual adoption of modern and more efficient farming practices has allowed the farmers to reduce their losses and improve margins.
One of the outcomes of this growth was an additional classroom at the local primary school that was built in 2017.
We have successfully raised the funds to purchase a BUV for Rwanda!
After successfully raising a total of $7000.00, our farming group will be seeing their first ever vehicle in Sept 2017. Thank you to everyone who donated and shared our posts to help make this a reality. This would not have been possible without your continued prayers and moral support.
The BUV is special because not only does it allow farmers to become more efficient and productive, it is also possible to assemble these vehicles in Rwanda. This means that future vehicles can be a source of job creation in Rwanda and the region as a whole. Jobs such as maintenance mechanics, engineers, agricultural consultants and many more. This is in line with our efforts to create a growth model for poor communities that is self sustaining.
After delivery in Rwanda, our next steps will be:
Research and Development: In partnership with the University of Rwanda, we will study the vehicle on Rwandan terrain. The assessment will include basic safety, viability, utility and usage limitations.
Field training with farmers: Once testing is complete, the vehicle will be released to farmers to begin training on basic operation and maintenance.
The BUV can improve the lives of poor farming communities and create access to water by using the power takeoff to dig for wells or water delivery. The engine can be used for milling and other one step food processing options which further increase the value of what they take to market.
Our fundraising efforts continue as we look to make the trip to Rwanda in December 2017 and pay our employee in Rwanda as he works and trains farmers. Please consider making a donation today to help make this a reality.
Our Trip to the Basic Utility Competition
On April 22, we were in Batavia, Ohio visiting with students and faculty that were participating in the annual Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) Competition. Students continue to improve vehicle durability and performance year over year. Our goal is to obtain a model that would be affordable and sustainable as a transportation option for farmers in Rwanda and in Africa as a whole.
We are currently working on raising funds to have a vehicle delivered to Rwanda for testing on the ground to determine if it would be able to perform on Rwandan terrain. To make a donation towards this vehicle delivery, please click the button on the right hand panel and add “BUV” in the memo line when making a donation or write a check to Tools For Hope, “BUV”. Thank you for your continued support as we work to improve transportation for underprivileged farmers in Rwanda and Africa.
We are adding goats to stabilize incomes
As our farmers continue to improve their farming techniques, we are helping them add goats to their farming activities. Goats are resistant to diseases and, with a gestation period of only 5 months, present a great opportunity to stabilize and diversify their incomes.
Our employee Deo is currently training farmers on best practices needed to successfully raise goats. We are also researching on all the locally available resources such as veterinary services that the farmers can take advantage of as their operations grow.
Images from our Dec 2016 trip to Bugesera, Rwanda
On our trip to Bugesera, that lasted from Dec 1-8, we met with the farmers twice. Once was to review their fields and to see the irrigation system in action. We walked 5-6 miles in their fields that day, seeing their farming and celebrating the new growth they are seeing.
The next time we met with them indoors at the local primary school to discuss the current year as well as plans for the coming year. The year over year changes were dramatic. In 2016, the farmers went from not being able to feed their families in the dry season to having their first ever farming surplus thanks to the irrigation equipment and training they received.
We are also very excited to announce that we have in place the technical and financial resources to begin fully developing a viable Utility Vehicle business in Rwanda. The local university (along with Baylor University in the US) and the Rwandan Development Bank have agreed to help with the effort.
The relationship between farmers and college graduates creates jobs and opportunities for both parties while giving the farmers a reliable source of information and growth opportunities.
So far in 2016 we have raised $7,350. 00. Here is what we were able to achieve:
- Fund the purchase of irrigation equipment in partnership with the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB).
- Continued to provide mentoring and support to farmers by helping improve farming methods and teaching basic accounting practices
- Family incomes have grown by 200% – 300%
- For the first time, farmers had a food surplus in the dry season
- Children are no longer needed to help water the farms allowing them to stay in school to study
- Farmers are building credit worthiness that is giving them access to business loans
- Farmers now have checking and savings bank accounts
- Our farming group is sharing their surplus with the less fortunate in their community
- The farming community has begun exploring community projects to improve their collective livelihoods such as Bio Gas projects, More Nurseries, Food processing equipment etc.
Our goal is to raise $10,000 for the trip to Rwanda on Dec 1, 2016. The goals of our trip are:
- Facilitate the farmers obtaining a basic transport vehicle
- Re-connect with local leadership for continued partnership
- Establish new relationships to explore crop insurance opportunities
- Pursue access to loans for the farming groups
The introduction of a farming vehicle would set our project on a solid path to self-sustainability by:
- Providing extra income to our employee that would result in less and less dependence on donations.
- Increase in income by reducing food lost in transportation. (Up to 40% is currently being damaged in transportation to the market)
- More access to markets: Farmers would be able to access markets that offer better prices.
- Allow farmers to add value to their projects through food processing. This can be achieved by partnering with local small scale factories and businesses.
Thus far, in 2016 TFH with assistance from the Rwanda Development Board has provided an irrigation system to the subsistence farming group with which we work. That system may double or triple their crop harvests. Currently, because of lack of appropriate transportation, 25 to 40 per cent of their harvested crops are lost during transport to market. Our primary goals for 2017 are to continue agri-business mentoring, provide additional irrigation systems as needed, and to solve the crop transportation problem.
- TFH continues to be very effective and efficient in resolving issues
- very small over head, targeted recipients, clearly identified problem and solutions that work, on-going training and support, recipient dignity self-sufficiency,
- Our employee in Rwanda (Deo) mentors and coaches those farmers on making improvements to their farming methods.
- we want to learn what you value in an organization such as TFH
- We would like your feedback and insights on our upcoming goals:
- Working with Baylor University and Rwandan government agencies, we plan to begin R&D activities aimed at developing basic agricultural transportation vehicles for Rwandan subsistence farmers.
- Baylor has agreed to provide a basic utility vehicle this December for the R&D effort (their goal is to provide one such vehicle each year to our efforts in Rwanda)
- We will need funds to travel to Rwanda to coordinate the transport R&D effort
TFH continues to identify solutions that are sustainable, aligned with user needs and values, aligned with national goals, and that add to dignity as well as prosperity for the Rwandan subsistence farmers.
Thank you for your continued prayers, thoughts, counsel, and material support.
We have Water!
We finally have footage of our delivery of the irrigation system that we recently installed. We are working on a longer video that will explain in more detail our process and what the next steps will be.
We would like to thank the Rwanda Agriculture Board for for partnering with us and contributing 50% of the equipment and also providing an Engineer to help in installation and maintenance. We are excited and encouraged by what this fruitful cooperation holds in the future.
Please help us match this enthusiasm 2:1 by making a donation or being a monthly contributor to our cause.