Solving More Food Security Problems
In a previous letter we discussed how Tools For Hope (TFH) had improved the subsistence farmers’ crop production. Working with our mentor (Frank Mutesa) the Twisungane cooperative of subsistence farmers managed to learn and implement much better agricultural, administrative, and business systems. For example, we helped them acquire irrigation equipment which helped their agricultural production, such that on 0.99 acres they used to get only 220 pounds of produce but after getting the irrigation equipment and the technical support from TFH, they are now over getting 2 tons of produce.
Recently Frank Matuesa has been giving technical assistance on how to harvest using proper methodologies. Farmers have in the past faced massive losses during harvest as a result of lack of appropriate knowledge of harvesting procedures and processes. In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 40% of the agricultural yield is lost during harvesting time. This is a huge loss to subsistence farmers.
The principal reasons are, lack of knowledge, insufficient or improper facilities for harvesting, and inadequate post-harvest handling management and methodology.
Because of their deficient knowledge and insufficient and unsatisfactory equipment for harvesting, farmers required more information and knowledge on how best to harvest their crops. Frank and Tools For Hope undertook the responsibility for giving them the necessary support and technical assistance to solve this problem.
We showed them how to start preparing for proper harvesting before they started planting. For example, for corn they should first prepare a place to keep the corn for drying purposes (i.e., in a hangar), prepare proper and clean transport sacks (minimize mold and insect infestations), and plan for the equipment needed to remove kernels from the corn cobs.
Additionally, we trained the farmers in determining the right time for harvesting corn. We provided them with a moisture meter which Frank borrowed from the Rwandan Agricultural Board (RAB), to measure moisture content of kernels. The correct moisture percentage of water must be below 14% for the (manual) harvesting process to begin. The farmers plan to find and buy their own such equipment in the future.
The way forward
TFH has also identified other groups of farmers who are familiar with our work through the communication with Twisungane farmers, and they have been requesting us to give them the with their agricultural activities.
Please consider donating to help more subsistence farmers in the areas around the Twisungane farmers improve their food security.
- TFH continues to be very effective and efficient in resolving issues
- very small overhead, targeted recipients, clearly identified problem and solutions that work, on-going training and support, recipient dignity self-sufficiency,
- Our employee in Rwanda (Frank Mutesa) mentors and coaches those farmers on making improvements to their farming methods.
- Our target fundraising amount for the year is $25,000.
- Donations to TFH are tax deductible
- The TFH website (http://www.toolsforhope.org/) has a PayPal donate button that donors may use to make one-time donations or to set up small monthly donations.
You may mail donations to Tools for Hope Inc., 1540 Robinson Rd, Knoxville, TN 37923.
JANUARY- FEBRUARY REPORT
1st March, 2019
During this period, from January and February, 2019, the TFH activities were mostly focusing on monitoring the agriculture activities, discussing with farmers on which off-farm activities they would like the TFH to help them to achieve and the way forward on the issue of using the BUV (The Basic Utility Vehicle). TWISUNGANE famers are well engaged in their agriculture activities and also some of them are working on small businesses here and there just trying to survive. They have cultivated their crops in mid-October, 2018 and now in January 2019, the main activity was to harvest the crops (maize, beans and some vegetables like cabbage and greens). These activities were done in two ways, one was on their individual farms (small farms of less than 0.5 ha) and the second one was on their rented farm (0.5 ha).
We have been giving the technical support on how to harvest using proper methodologies. This has been the concern of many farmers, which indicate that farmers are facing the massive loss during harvesting period due to lack of proper knowledge of harvesting. Also during this season, TFH has also identified other groups of farmers who are familiar with our work through the communication with TWISUNGANE farmers, and they have been requesting us to give them the support especially on how they can go with the issue of doing the off-farm activities while combining with the agricultural activities.
Monitoring and evaluation of TWISUNGANE activities
This month of January was occupied by the preparation of the harvesting activities. This is a huge work which needs a lot of concern. And with the little knowledge and few equipment favorable for their harvesting, farmers needed more information and knowledge on how best they van harvest their crops. The TFH staff was then responsible in giving support and technical assistance on how the TWISUNGANE group go by this activity in a proper manner. In Sub Saharan Africa, more than 40% of the yield is lost during harvesting time. This is a huge loss to the smallholder farmers, and the core issues are, lack of knowledge and poor or proper facilities of harvesting, and also the poor management in postharvest handling methodology.
Therefore it is in this regard that TFH jump in and helped farmers in giving them the proper information and knowledge of how well they can harvest their crops and minimize the risks of losing their yield during the process. This we argued them to start preparing for this even before they start planting. For example for maize they should first of all prepare where to keep the maize for drying purpose (hangar), prepare the proper and clean sacks, and also where the equipment used to remove grains from the cobs. There is another issue of harvesting in its self, this simply means, when is the right time for harvesting maize. We have given them the moisture meter which were borrowed from RAB, this equipment usually used to measure moisture content on grains. You just take few grains from a cob and put them on this moisture meter and it gives you the water content. Therefore the right moisture/ percentage of water that grains contains must be below 14% for the harvesting process to begin. So we argued them to find and buy that equipment in the future.
Therefore we conducted this process of harvesting and farmer field schooling in 7 days. As we were doing this from the TWISUNGANE leased farm, and also from some individuals who have issues in harvesting process in their own farms.
Discussion on the livestock and off-farm activities
There are many discussion on the issues of many planned activities that our farmers are engaging with us so that they can be able to support themselves. In the pipeline they have four major projects and these projects are somehow connected as if one is fully implemented then it is easier for them to finance for other projects. These projects are;
- Used motorbike for transportation business. This will cost them USD 1000, they believe this will be a great opportunity and the door to other project. And if the TFH gives them the loan, therefore they will pay back the money in 10 months. As they will be put the money on TFH account in a daily basis. The details for this will be discussed when TFH agree to finance them.
- Goat project. This has been their livestock project for long time, and they believe that if this motorbike project is been implemented then, they will be able to finance themselves for this goat project.
- Selling fruits and meat. Thus is also one of the project they think that will help their development as the cooperative.
- Buying shewing machine and teaching their women this business.
- Replacing the current BUV with more appropriate BUV that can operate in Rwandan terrain.
So far these are the quick projects that they would like to work on. This was the request to the TFH in the USA.
BUV management and the possibility of selling to the Big farm operators
This BUV has been in testing for almost three months in our village. And farmers have faced difficulties in its operation. I have been myself conducting several testing but as I mentioned before, this BUV was not made to handle mountainous regions of Rwanda. Therefore this BUV is of no use to our farmers regarding the terrain. We have been looking for buyers especially in the flat areas but till now we haven’t found the buyers who are interested in buying this BUV due to other BUV which are cheap and made for mountainous areas. Below is the BUV which many farmers possess and willing to buy;
This is the kind of BUV that is used in Rwanda and it is mostly used by farmers in different activities, being agriculture or even other off-farm activities. Farmers are requesting to get this kind of BUV instead.
The other option we have is to contact the company which sell us tis BUV in Tanzania and discuss with them if they can look for costumer for u and we give the for the fair price, but this is again a request we are asking from TFH USA and see if they can help us to communicate with the company in Arusha- Tanzania.
The way forward
So far farmers are enjoying the technical support in their everyday life whether in agriculture or other business, as we are here to give any support in terms of building capacity at large. Therefore now we are preparing the farms for the season 2019B, where farmers are cultivating their field and ready to plant maize and beans, and also vegetables on the marshland areas where they are also leasing some small land. Meanwhile they are waiting for the support and establish one of the proposed projects mentioned above. And am here to help them and support them in any kind of assistance they may need which are under my capacity.