Your Support Makes The Difference!
Twisungane Cooperative elected leaders with new motorbike August 2019
Tools for Hope, Inc. (TFH) loaned the funds to buy the motorbike and to obtain all the necessary documents for the Twisungane farmer cooperative’s transportation business.
Last season TFH, in collaboration with Rwandan Agricultural Board (RAB) researchers, supplied cassava plants to our Twisungane farmers. TFH is supplying the necessary technical support to help ensure the farmers can take full advantage of that important food source.
TFH is working to bring Frank to the USA in October 2019 to help our supporters better understand the necessity of our work, to improve communications between us, and to transfer knowledge and operating experiences about agricultural best practices.
In August 2019, TFH took the unusual step of returning donations because subsequent to their donation they were found to be given under conditions which would have drawn us away from our core principles and values.
Motorbike – Transportation Business
This month Frank Mutesa (TFH Rwanda employee) was very busy with the motorbike project. TFH – USA funded the loan for the transportation business. Before buying the motorbike, Frank held several discussions with farmer’s representatives to choose the type of motorbike that would be appropriate in their area.
We are now on the process of signing the loan repayment agreement. The discussion on the agreement took time and we agreed on the weekly payment equivalent to $23. This was agreed because we wanted the group to save some money for themselves and to have funds for maintenance of the motorbike.
The motorbike transportation project is significant for several reasons. First and foremost, it will provide (currently the only) powered transportation for the cooperative’s families and their neighbors. It will supply a significant, on-going source of revenue for the farming cooperative. And it will provide, at least part-time, jobs for the group members. In Rwanda, with 80%+ unemployment, a job of any kind is very valuable (particularly as regards malnutrition).
TFH Rwanda activities are still thriving and showing great effect in the development of Twisungane farmer group. This is made possible with the technical support of TFH. Last season TFH in collaboration with RAB researchers, supplied the cassava plants to the Twisungane farmers. Cassava can be prepared in many ways. Cassava can be cooked as it is, or it can be transformed into a flour form that can be cooked to make ugali (i.e. porridge). Also, the cassava leaves can be prepared as a vegetable and used to make soup. Frank visited the families and worked with them regarding the care needed for the cassava plants that were given to them.
Frank found that some of them were not taking good care of their cassava, for example some did not weed on time, which may hinder production and reduce yield. Frank had to teach them the importance of weeding, telling them that weeds are unwanted plants that compete with crops for space, water, and nutrients. In addition, some weeds release toxic chemicals that are harmful to the surrounding crops.
Land preparation and inputs searching
This is a crucial time for the farmers because of the importance of finding the right inputs and in tilling the land. The agricultural season 2019-2020 A is just around the corner (late September to mid-October 2019). Our farmers are planning to cultivate maize and beans on their land (shared land). Frank has emphasized the importance of using the right seeds of good varieties. Frank also visited several individual projects that farmers are involved in on their own time. He is going to try to connect them with the seeds department from RAB and get them information on the best maize and beans seeds.
This time our farmers will try the intercropping systems of cereals and legume and that is maize and beans. They can have for each two lines of maize with two lines of beans (2:2) or one line of maize and one line of beans know as 1:1 ratio.
Frank also emphasized to them the importance of using more organic fertilizers such as poultry manure for its high content of phosphorus, and ‘Farm Yard Manure’ (FYM)which contains plant material (often straw), that has been used as bedding for animals. Frank would also like to train them on compost making. Ideally, they would combine the organic fertilizer with a little inorganic fertilizer for the crop to be fed.
Because there is a difference between feeding the soil and feeding the crop. Most of the time it’s better to feed the soil because when you feed the soil the at the end the soil can feed the crop, so when you apply the organic manure/fertilizer you are feeding soil and increasing soil fertility, while application of inorganic fertilizers is simply feeding the crop alone. So, the combination of the two is very important on soil fertility and crop yield management.
Thanks to your support the farmers are doing very well. Their transportation business should help to solidify their self-sustaining economic and social forward progress. They have made and continue to make remarkable strides in improving their agricultural techniques and efficiencies. We will keep you posted on our progress as we work to bring Frank to the USA. We plan several dinners, discussions, field trips to UT Agricultural facilities, etc. One of the most important TFH core values is that gratuitous material or financial charity is destructive to families and to communities. We believe the successes of the farmers who we mentor have verified the validity of that core value. Your support does not go to buy ‘things’ rather, it goes to produce successful outcomes for subsistence farmers in east central Africa.
Tools For Hope, Inc.
1540 Robinson Road
Knoxville, TN 37923
Thank you for your continued support for Rwandan subsistence farmers.
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