September 2020 Tools for Hope, Inc. Newsletter
Frank also had time to discuss management plans for the Twisungane group’s businesses and projects. During this time of coronavirus pandemic, all Twisungane projects must be managed well, and all the members must be aware of each and everyone’s responsibilities.
Frank also focused on livestock keeping. This is another issue that our farmers were not doing well, and Frank is focusing on effective training to aid the farmers in resolving their identified problems.
TFH is working on all aspects of life for these farmers. TFH, and Frank, really want the farmers to have better lives and this, we believe, starts with changing their mindsets about certain issues. They just need the right coaching and encouragement and, the right people in their lives. TFH is giving farmers the inputs and right principles needed in agriculture, helping the farmers to start their own businesses, and giving the proper knowledge for everyday life (e.g. hygiene, financial planning, food security).
Soil Fertility Management and Testing Improves Food Production
Frank did a tour to determine how well our farmers are prepared with soil fertility issues. With help from some technicians from the Rwandan Agricultural Board, Frank and the technicians walked around the village where our farmers reside making the farmers aware of how to manage soils, improve soil fertility, encouraging them to test their soil, and to know the nutrients/ essential elements needed. Soil testing is not expensive, and the results can help improve the crop yield by using the necessary inputs at the right rates.
Many farmers were not aware of the importance of soil fertility and the importance of knowing the status of it. Some think this is entirely some job of the big and rich farmers. However, this is a mind-set Frank looks to change. He is explaining to them that this is a ‘must do’ job and it does not require a lot of money. For example, the cost for testing and analysis for the essential elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) for one sample is 5000 Rwandan francs, equivalent to ~$5.00.
On-going Projects and Plans for Others
It is in this regard that Frank has been watching and helping our farmers to perform the essential and important monitoring and evaluation of their business activities. There are two types of businesses /projects our farmers are engaged in; one is the motorcycle transportation / taxi business, and second is the rearing of goats for multiple purposes.
Now in Rwanda due to the social distancing issues, all means of transporting people and goods have been increased and their motorcycle business is booming with lots of customers. So Frank is now closely monitoring them and helping them to follow best business practices. For example, making sure they have sanitizers, and effective metering for taxi charges to avoid fees for not following such required measures.
Frank has also been observing the goat project, house by house, seeing how they are managing the goats. Frank has been checking on the feeding, health, and shelter for the goats. Many of the farmers were not maintaining proper shelter for their goats, therefore Frank has been teaching them how to make and manage proper barns.
Frank has been emphasizing regular cleaning to help fight diseases and protect the goats’ health. Frank has been checking the feeding materials and where they get the grass and which types. Frank found their feeding sites and types of grass are all right, but they need more, and Frank will check whether he can get good grass types that help in goats’ welfare. Frank knows of some good types of fodder grass that can be grown in their field strips.
Frank found two goats that were not in good health. After monitoring, proper discussions, and advice from Frank, they found proper medication and began looking for proper feeding materials. Frank believes these goats will recover soon. The other goats are all looking good and Frank is always there to help our farmers in whatever technical advice they need.
Livestock Care and Feeding Plans
The tropics, where Rwanda is, have climates which support a lot of bacteria and other microorganisms some of which can be harmful to human and animal health. Therefore, regular cleanings and proper barns for livestock shelter help reduced health risks that might lead to the death of livestock and increase the risks to human health.
Take as an example the conditions of the above cow. This is what Frank is concerned about. Farmers need to take health and hygiene issues seriously and to make sure they take good care of their livestock. Frank can help them find some trees to make a simple barn, and to make sure they do proper cleaning and collection of the manure and to keep it in a compost bin for agricultural use. This is what Frank is encouraging our farmers to do. These maintenance activities need proper planning. Being poor is not an excuse for dirtiness.
TFH is working on all aspects of life for these farmers, Frank really wants these farmers to have better lives, and this, Frank believe starts with changing their mindset. Frank and we believe they can. They just need the right instruction and encouragement and the right people in their lives. TFH is a right organization for this purpose, giving farmers the ideas and right principles needed in agriculture, helping farmers to start their own businesses, and giving the right knowledge for everyday life. Frank and we are seeing good changes, some of them are also helping us to help the larger community.
And for the goat project, Frank is encouraging the farmers to take meticulous care of the goats so that they will be able to start paying their loan next year.
Frank would like to pass the greetings from Twisungane members, they are more than grateful for all you have done to them. And they are in this with courage, the goal is to have better future and healthier life.
Tools For Hope, Inc.
Thank you for your continued support for Rwandan subsistence farmers.