The Twisungane farmer cooperative has been doing great, all their projects have been successful.
Their goat project has been going very well, all their goats have given birth. This has been a wonderful experience. It shows how well the farmers can manage their own projects with the help of Tools for Hope (TFH) guidance. Their goats are kept in good conditions.
The off-farm project of their motorcycle transportation business is doing very well. Their revenue is good, and they continue to pay the loan as agreed upon.
During September, Frank Mutesa (TFH employee / mentor / consultant) worked on clean water issues. Sufficient, clean water has been one of the critical issues because during this season of heavy rains, they tend to get too much dirty water. Frank has been discussing this with their local leaders.
Frank and the farmers are still doing preparations for this planting season, 2020-2021 Season A. Frank teaches them how to calculate rainfall distribution data from METEO-RWANDA, and to plan what crops to cultivate and which agricultural system to use as regards the amount of rainfall predicted for this season.
Frank also tackled the food preservation techniques issues. Frank reviewed the farmers current preservation techniques, what they lack, and what TFH can do to help them.
Motorcycle Taxi Business
When they get money from their motorcycle transport business, they deposit it at once to secure their loan and have some to their own account. When they get the money from their motorcycle transport business, they deposit it at once to their loan repayment account and some to their own account. TFH monitors their progress monthly via their bank account statements.
Continuing Goat Project Monitoring, Evaluations, and Training
September has been dominated by monitoring and by evaluations of the farmers’ goat project. Frank did this by going door to door and looking at each goat. Frank assessed their status and, recommended actions needed accordingly. Frank is happy to say that all goats have given birth, and this is a good sign. The goat project has been doing well. This has been a wonderful experience and shows how well the farmers can manage their own projects with the help of TFH guidance.
TFH gave the lady in the picture above 2 goats and now she has 6 goats. She is taking diligent care of them and she is getting all the benefits e.g., milk, and manure for her farming especially for her vegetable garden (known as a kitchen garden). This is typical of the eleven families that each received two goats via one-year loans from TFH in March of this year. Each family will repay their loans with the proceeds from the sale of two of their goats in March 2021.
The picture above is of an older gentleman who was given 2 goats. He has 5 goats now. He very much appreciates the program. He told us he wants to start a business of selling meat. Now he is looking for other 2 goats and after 6 months he will have lots of goats and can start his business. Frank and TFH are helping him in shaping this idea to see if he may be able to succeed in his planned business.
All the goats from the Tools for Hope (TFH) loans have now multiplied. Those families who got the fewest (baby goats or kids) now have 4 goats, while those having the most kids have 8 goats, from the 2 goats given to each farmer. Their goats are kept in good conditions. What they must improve is the goat houses, some of them are poor and uncomfortable barns.
Frank had an opportunity to show them how to successfully prepare compost using the goat manure. Frank taught them to prepare a good pit for the manure and to make sure they used something to cover the pile to keep the nitrogen from volatilization (see for example http://cceonondaga.org/resources/nitrogen-basics-the-nitrogen-cycle), and to do a regular mix-up to ensure a proper decomposition. Doing so will result in an excellent quality and a well decomposed manure ready to be used. Frank encourages them to keep doing better on both agriculture and other development activities outside farming.
Clean Water issues Involving the Farmers and their Local Leaders
TFH is now working on getting better access to clean(er) water for our farmers. We see a possibility of getting ceramic water filters from a manufacturing company in Tanzania. A trial set (3) of Madidrop+ tablets is on order to be shipped from the USA to Frank. We are now in talks with the ceramic filter company to buy three filters. In days ahead we will evaluate these systems i.e., filtered water will get added treatment from the Madidrop tablets.
Meanwhile we are talking with the farmers to understand what they are willing to try to have clean water. All proposed TFH solutions must meet the approval of the farmers. Problem solution must be a team effort for the solutions to be practical and sustainable for the long-term.
During this rainy season, farmers tend to get too much dirty water. We have been discussing this with their local leaders. The leaders see the possibility of boiling drinking water to minimize the diseases that coming from the dirty water. They are looking for ways of filtering water prior to getting the ceramic water filters. We are in discussions with the local leaders in charge of social welfare about any source(s) of clean water nearer their area.
We have checked available water sources. Most of the farmers get their water from the river. That river water is dirty water, but it is the only water that is near their village. Tap (well) water is far from where the Twisungane farmers live. They walk for ~3.7 miles to get that tap water. They pay ~$0.35, for 5.3 gal. of water, which weighs 45 Lb. with container.
Preparation for Agriculture 2020-2021 Season A
The PICSA (Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture) approach is being used until in the middle of the season. Farmers are encouraged to listen to the information broadcast on the radio about the predicted rainfall for this season. When they have this predicted rain fall information, they can decide what to do if they use the PICSA approach. PICSA helps the farmer to know the right crop to cultivate, the agriculture system to use, the right variety to be used, and the right input(s) to prepare. Applying the knowledge from the PICSA approach will help them to make good investments in their time, labor, and finances. Moreover, soon they will be able to calculate their cost-benefit ratio(s) (Frank is going to teach them this soon).
We have been encouraging the farmers to be careful to secure their food needs. Improved food preservation is one of our 2020 goals. The food preservation methods that we have been discussing with our farmers involve ways of keeping their crop yields safe for longer-term storage and to be able to use them efficiently.
Some of the local techniques used for crops include
- maize – preserve in form of flour,
- cassava – preserved in form of flour, or kept in the pits as cassava roots,
- beans – are kept in a sack with pesticide to prevents insect attack which helps beans keep from being spoiled.
The Way forward
Farmers and their local leaders are really working hard to secure a better tomorrow and they are glad TFH is doing all it can to push our rural people and to equip them with the right knowledge and mentality to achieve their sustainable development. They have now understood that they can also make it to a good life. And this was done by doing. (from Frank “TFH is a “do program” if I may say”). We focus on activities/works rather than words, and that’s why farmers can see it with their own eyes.
Frank encourages them to keep doing better on both agriculture and other development activities outside farming.
Thanks to the TFH USA for the support, the Twisungane farmers are very much humbled and they are sending their warm greetings to all TFH staff and supporters in the USA. God bless you all.