The Twisungane smallholder farmers group did great work together with Frank Mutesa and Tools For Hope (TFH) in March. Among the activities that we engaged in was the preparation and launch of our no-till farming research trial. The launch process was a successful and we welcomed the fact that the farmers did exactly what Frank had been training them to do.
We also completed the process of buying and distributing goats to eleven farmer families, as planned. This was the most important activity that the farmers had been waiting for.
No-Till Farming Research Trials Launched
In February, the farmers and Frank began preparing the land and doing all the important preliminary work. On the 21st of March we launched the research trial. The results of this trial will help answer questions regarding soil fertility and the proper techniques that should be used to produce good crop yields on small pieces of land without disturbing the soil. It may also provide information regarding protecting the environment as well.
After showing farmers the differences between the no-till plots and tilling plots, they started doing the land preparations for themselves and they continued with the preparations.
Frank showed them how to apply inputs (fertilizers and seeds) properly in all the plots while respecting crop spacing. After finishing the preparation for the two treatments (no-till and tilling treatments), the next activity was to apply the inputs i.e., fertilizers, both organic farmyard manure (FYM) and inorganic diammonium phosphate (DAP). The first thing they did was to apply the FYM, this took two days, because the farm is located at a distance from the homestead where we obtained our FYM.
Then followed the DAP. The application of inorganic DAP was applied in parallel with the seeds. Because they planted during a sunny day the seeds and the DAP were mixed with a little bit of soil to make sure the seeds were not burnt when they encountered the DAP. The application of inputs was done successfully following all the best science of soil management and crop production practices. The planting day was followed with rainfall in the evening, so we hope everything will be OK and our crop will germinate and grow well.
The Twisungane farmers are the caretakers of this research, however Frank will be monitoring their progress daily to make sure we get good data for the analysis at the end of the trials. This is the first such research trial that we have conducted with our farmers.
The farmers were cooperative and showed interest in learning innovative technologies. They will provide us with valuable feedback and lessons learned about no-till farming in Rwanda. The farmers are eager to learn; therefore, we believe that from here, our research work will be straightforward and easy. We can direct all the farming technologies and be sure that the farmers will do their best to help make their projects work.
TFH Helps Eleven Twisungane Group Families Obtain Goats
It wasn’t easy to complete this task because the receiving families and Frank required a lot of discussion about loan repayment agreements for the goats. They discussed the loan issues and came to a mutual understanding on how to repay the loan. They also discussed how to take care of their goats before buying them. Once everything was agreed to, we proceeded with buying the goats.
Frank and the farmers also had to do a survey to look for a marketplace where they could get good goats which can cope with the climate (micro climate) conditions in their area, to avoid difficulties in rearing the goats. They also had to look for female goats which can mate successfully with the male goats that are already in the area.
After discovering a good market in Nyamata Town*, they proceeded with purchasing the goats, another challenging task. Selecting 22 goats of good health takes time. They evaluated the goats one by one. The process of selecting and purchasing the goats took seven hours. The distance from the market to where our farmers village is located is several miles so they had to hire a vehicle that could carry the goats, and a vehicle which could manage the rough roads leading to their village.
Goat purchase and transport was followed by distributing the goats to the 11 families. The distribution process needed to be fair to all. The distribution process agreed upon had each family pick their goats by chance. Frank prepared 22 small pieces of paper, each with a number from 1 to 22. He folded them so that no one could see the number written on each paper. He also wrote similar numbered slips of paper and put one on each goat. Then each family picked 2 folded pieces of paper. They opened their pieces and found the number corresponding to the number tagged on a goat. This was a quick and fair process, and everybody was happy. Each family got 2 goats and the process was done peacefully.
The goat project has brought happiness to our farmers. They are now waiting for the goats to multiply. We believe this will happen soon and farmers will be able to repay their loans.
Their gratitude goes to Tools For Hope for making this possible. This will help farmers in many ways and help them to continue their journey of achieving better lives. The next steps of taking good care of these goats are theirs. And we are also with them day by day and continue mentoring them in numerous ways.
*The town is also the location of Nyamata Genocide Memorial. Located at the site where Nyamata Parish Catholic Church once stood, the memorial contains the remains of over 45,000 genocide victims, almost all of whom were Tutsi, including over 10,000 who were massacred inside the church itself.
The Way Forward
Farmers are grateful for the projects that were in pipeline and are now operating. They are eager to continue working with TFH and they are committed. They will succeed in conquering their abysmal former life and to prosper.
We hope that after this problem of COVID-19 ends, we will have many more projects (e.g., improved crop / food preservation techniques). While the farming activities are on-going, the farmers are using precautions to fight the spreading of this virus, like washing their hands regularly and making social distancing of 1.5 meters.
We thank you once again for your support. God bless you and your entire family, and we pray that God will protect you in these dangerous times our world is passing through.
Tools For Hope, Inc.
1540 Robinson Road
Knoxville, TN 37923
Thank you for your continued support for Rwandan subsistence farmers.
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