Friday, November 21, 2014

An Indian Businessman in Ethiopia


An Indian Businessman in Ethiopia I just recently talked to a business man from Chicago that is looking at doing business in Ethiopia. I love his enthusiasm and plan of action. I look forward to talking more with him in the future. He found me on one of the discussion boards on Linked In. We got connected through mutual friends and were able to talk about his project. I was able to give him some very valuable information and insight about agricultural businesses in Ethiopia.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Solution for Calcium Deficiency - Egg Shells - It's Catching On

As I explained in an earlier post, Calcium deficiency in Kenya. What About Egg Shells?, calcium deficiency is a major problem in rural Africa. We proposed the idea of using egg shells as a dietary supplement. Introducing new ideas is challenging, even when they make good sense. Most of the people that I work with have been slow to adopt the idea. At the SAFI school in rural Malawi it is catching on thanks to a good staff and BYU students.
Ester the SAFI nutritionist shows me maize flour with egg shells ground into it.
The SAFI school has two flour mills for grinding maize (corn) flour. Ester and the BYU students took some of the egg shells from their breakfast and ground them right into the maize flour. The egg shells have no flavor, so they go undetected as long as they are ground fine enough that there is no gritty texture. I tested the flour myself and found no difference in taste or texture, when compared with regular maize flour.
Alisha, one of the BYU students that helped with the eggshell project.

One egg shell can provide enough daily calcium for three people. This use of egg shells could be a huge game changer in the lives of the rural African population. The question is, will we be able to change the custom of these rural villagers and convince them to eat egg shells as part of their daily diet.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Children's Brighter Future Initiative in Malawi AMAZING!

I am amazed at what is happening with Children's Brighter Future Initiative (CBFI) in Malawi. Even though I have seen it unfolding, I still have a hard time comprehending the incredible results that they are achieving. This post will hit a few of the highlights of the program and may be one of several posts detailing this program.

A little over a year ago, the CBFI staff met with a small group of Agriculture Extension Development Officers (AEDOs) to explain their program and teach them the basic principles that they would teach the farmers in the rural villages. This group met at the School of Agriculture for Family Independence (SAFI) near Madisi, Malawi. For a week the SAFI staff and the CBFI staff trained the AEDOs on basic nutrition and sequential gardens. The training went very well and the AEDOs left with enthusiasm for this new program for teaching and inspiring the farm families in their districts.
Alan Silva doing additional training with CBFI and SAFI staff
The plan was very simple, each AEDO would select four lead farmers in their district to train. These lead farmers would then select ten follower farmers that they would teach and mentor. The incentive to this program was that CBFI would provide vegetable seeds to these farmers. The key to the program was that the seeds would only be provided after the farmer families had constructed raised beds with a mixture of mulch, manure, and soil. In addition, these families were expected to pay back with seeds or produce from their harvest and to teach their neighbors what they were learning. In other words, work first and the reward will come later. Most of the farm families approached were excited about the program, but a few of them declined to join the program, citing that other NGOs (non government organizations or charitable organizations) gave to them without requiring work on their part. Requiring work first was a core principle of this program.

A few months after the training took place, I had the extreme pleasure of visiting several of these families. I was amazed at their gardens. The farmers were so excited to show off what THEY had accomplished. Their families were now eating vegetables on a regular basis, they had surplus to sell, school fees were able to be paid for their children and they were anxious to learn module two.
This family enjoys a bouteous harvest from thier garden

What affect does this have on these farm families? Before the program their families consumed very few vegetables. They didn't understand the importance of eating them and they didn't have money to buy them. The AEDOs estimated that the few vegetables that they did buy would cost the families at least 100 kwacha /per week. A daily laborer can earn about 300 kwacha/day when work is available. Malnutrition and sickness were ubiquitous in these families.
Husbands and wives are taught the basic CBFI program

The AEDOs reported that the value of vegetables consumed and sold by these families is 200 kwacha/day. This changes the families financial position on vegetables from paying 100 kwacha/week to receiving 200 kwacha/day. This is a difference of 1500 kwacha/week or 78,000 kwacha/year! The health of their children has improved dramatically having a ripple effect on the community, local clinics, and government medical programs. The community has benefited by having more vegetables available for purchase and consumption. Neighbors are learning how to raise vegetables and receive seeds from the target families. The far reaching effects of this program are impossible to measure, but are extremely significant.

Maybe the most important harvest of this program has been the boost in self confidence that these families have developed. They now see themselves as agents to lift themselves out of poverty. They have also developed a trust in the AEDOs and CBFI that has allowed further miracles to happen with modules two and three. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tsuma Continues to Amaze Me

You may remember Tsuma, my friend from Gona that gave me a chicken in appreciation of me working with him. He has been extra busy the last couple of months and is the best entrepreneur in the area.
Tsuma with three of his now 32 beehives
The honey business has done so well that he has increased his number of hives to 32. Some of them are the yellow boxes that you see and some of them are hollow logs with caps put in the end. He lost one of his hives to a colony of ants that built a cancerous looking nest on the bottom. I guess in the world of insects, ants win over bees.
Ants came in and built their nest on the bottom of this beehive.
Tsuma has led his group to amazing success. They have been very busy in their vegetable gardens and fields and have a great crop of kale, tomatoes, spinach, okra, and several other vegetables. Their corn is looking much better than any around the area.
Eddison, Rabecca and I are helping Tsuma harvet his kale
They have also learned from Rabecca that they can dry their kale and store it for later. They have plenty of vegetables for their own families. They have been able to sell large quantities and use the money for improving their community garden, paying school fees for their children, and setting up a group bank account. They also discovered that if they dry their kale and save it for a couple of months when the dry season comes, they can sell it for twice the price.

Tsuma's next big project is to learn how to do drip irrigation so that they can be even more efficient with their water. They have also started growing fruit trees to add to their food supply.

With the teaching, coaching and encouragement of Feed The World and Tsuma's leadership, this village is hurling itself out of poverty and dependence. They are setting a great example for their neighboring villages and making a new life for their children.

Congratulations to Tsuma and the Gona Village Group!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Julius, A life changed by Feed The World

Julius heard about the Feed The World program and wanted to be part of it. He organized over twenty of his neighboring families into a group that we could teach. He was ready for us and has done an incredible job.
Julius had realized the importance of water and dug a large pit about 12 feet deep and 14 feet in diameter to capture water for his farm. Several years after this, another NGO, AgraKan, was impressed with his ambition and helped him dig a much larger surface dam. This preparation made it much easier for him to take advantage of our program.
Julius, Eddison, and two of the group members at the surface dam
As the Feed The World staff taught him our basic principles he implemented them with vigor. He has been in the program less than a year and has already enjoyed great success. When we visited his farm we found Okra plants over six feet tall, tomatoes, eggplant, kale, spinach, and many others. An average day laborer in Kenya can earn about 350 Kenyan Shillings ($4.00) per day. Julius is now harvesting and selling about 1,000 Kenyan Shillings ($11.75) worth of tomatoes per day. This is after his family has eaten all that they want to eat.
Julius is proudly showing off his tomatoes
Last month volunteers from Thriving Nations, the charitable arm of Thrive Life, helped Julius plant maize (corn) according to our specifications. Based on what we are seeing right now after only a month he should have three or four times as much maize as he has had before. He was very excited that the Thrive team had come and helped him till the land and plant the maize.
The maize is growing well. Julius's home is in the background
The proceeds from his garden will make it so that he can easily pay the school fees for his children and medical bills that come up. Those two expenses are the ones that I most often hear talked about. Parents hate to have their children kicked out of school because they can't pay the required fees. No parent wants to be in the situation that they have a sick child and don't have the money to pay for the medicine to treat them. With malaria and several other of the illnesses in rural Kenya, the medicine could mean the difference between life and death.
The smile on Julius's face is in part a smile of stress relief because now he has a way of getting the money that he needs for these critical issues. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Church in Africa

How do I worship when I am in Africa? The answer is in some ways the same as I do at home and in some ways it is very different.

Last week I landed in Bamako, Mali late Friday night. Since Mali is almost entirely Muslim and their holy day is Friday, I missed the national day of worship. Sunday is just like any other day in Mali, so I had kind of a half work day and half, worship on my own day. I studied the scriptures and prayed.

A wonderful young family arriving at church in the Changamwe Branch
Today I attended the Changamwe branch in Mombasa, Kenya. Since I have been there before, I was welcomed with open arms and bright smiles. We had a wonderful worship service where many including myself shared our beliefs in, and testimonies of, Jesus Christ.

The congergation was much smaller than the one that I meet with in Genola but they were full of faith and anxious to share their happiness with others. The children sang with gusto from the primary room.

In a couple of weeks I will be in Lilongwe, Malawi and I will have a similar experience. The meetings are held in English but there is a good portion of the native language mixed in and in Malawi a translator is usually used so that all can participate and understand each other. The Lord's spirit is there no matter where you are encouraging you to do better.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What My Parents Taught Me that Every Child in the Developing World Needs to Know

What I have learned from

Welton and Trudy Ward

Today as I drove to the airport with Anounou, I told him about lessons that I have learned from my parents. He was very excited with several of the concepts and shook my hand a couple of times to show his gratitude for me sharing them with him. At one point he held out his arm and showed me the goose bumps that were on his arm, because he was so excited with the concepts that I was sharing with him.
We were talking about development and I asked him why the United States was so successful while Mali was so poor. He answered human capital. Then he went on to explain that many people in Mali did not work hard to improve their circumstances. I agreed. His comments were similar to the comments my Ethiopian friend had shared with me. He said that they life was too easy so they did not have to work and consequently were mired in poverty.
This lead to a discussion of lessons that I have learned from my parents. By US standards, we were a poor family. (Compared to the developing world we were very well off). We always had plenty of nutritious food to eat but we seldom had fancy food. Often our clothes were purchased at second hand stores or were given to us by friends and family.  Getting a new pair of jeans for school from the Sears catalog was an exciting experience. We had sufficient for or needs and some wants as well.
My parents worked hard to teach us and provide for us. My mother taught piano lessons all the time I remember. Almost all of the money went for family needs. I don’t remember my mom ever buying something extra just for her. Her guilty pleasure was to mix chocolate, butter, sugar, peanut butter and a few other ingredients into a tasty treat. My father worked hard on the farm and sold many different items to add to the family income. He often bought treats to snack on as he worked the fields but was very frugal with his money. He loved to relax by reading a Louis Lamour western or some other novel. Both of my parents read a lot and instilled in us a love of reading. They also shared their philosophies with us and welcomed discussion.
One of the key lessons that my parents taught me was that there was “no free lunch”. Someone had to pay for services and the government did not generate money, it consumed it. At school we could have very easily qualified for the free lunch program but my parents said no that we could pay for it ourselves or we could take a lunch to school. They explained that the lunch had to be paid for by someone. If it was not us then it came from someone else. Some would say “the government pays for it”. They would say the government does not generate money it takes it from our neighbors. If we get the free lunch we are telling our neighbors that they have to pay for it and we are using the government to extort that money from them. That may seem like a harsh statement but it is true. If I am not comfortable asking my neighbor for help I should not feel comfortable taking it from the government when I can provide fpr myself.
Farm subsidies were available to the farmers as I was growing up. I often heard my friends talk about how their fathers used their subsidy check to buy new equipment, a new truck, take the family on vacation, or some other desirable purchase. When I asked my father about the subsidy program he explained that he was farming the land not the government. He said that the money that the government had come from the citizens, us and our neighbors. Taking the subsidies was like taking money from our neighbors. He said that he felt that he should provide for himself and for his family and not expect others to do what he could do himself. He taught us that if we worked hard we could accomplish anything that we wanted to do. If we depended on others for our success then we would always be limited to what we could get from them.
My parents taught us to work for what we got and to appreciate what we had. This work ethic is not unique to our family but I find it lacking in many of the areas that I work and I fear that it is rapidly slipping away in the United States. While the developing world is trying to beg its way out of poverty, The United States citizens are ignorantly racing toward the main cause of poverty. I was taught that I should always give more than I should take. More and more people are grabbing for anything they can get. Consuming while not producing and complaining when they can’t get everything that they want.
My parents worked hard to provide a good stable environment for our family and incubator for learning.  Their focus was to help us to become productive citizens in society. They were both involved with politics, my father more so than my mother. They had us help out in political campaigns and learn political philosophies so that we could add value to the communities where we lived.
My parents were very active in church. They taught us the gospel of Jesus Christ by lesson and by example. We always attended our meetings and my parents always served in various capacities. They were less concerned with where they served and more concerned with how they served. They expected us to do the same.
Even though my parents did not acquire a lot of wealth, the appreciation of their farm made their net worth fairly high. Their desire to have a cohesive family and a place where the family could gather lead them to work out a deal with my brother so that he could get the farm at a very low price on terms that he could live with. So the wealth that they had acquired was in essence given away so that the family farm could stay in the family. They could have had a nice comfortable retirement with the “niceties” of life. Instead they chose to serve as tour guides in Nauvoo and live a Spartan life. If success were measured by how much value you added to society compared to how much you took from society, they would be some of the most successful people in the world.

It is often said that you don’t know what you have until you lose it. In my case I didn’t realize what I had until I worked among people that did not have the same teachings that I received. I can see how critical it was to my success when I compare my life to those that have never been taught such fundamental principles for success.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Malawi - June 30, 2014

On Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 2:08 PM, Lonny Ward <lonny@feedtheworld.org> wrote:

To all,

Today we drove to the capital, Bamako. We met with scientists and staff at ICRISAT, which is a research institution that works across western Africa. They said that they would be glad to assist with any agriculture projects. Anounou's wife works in one of the offices.

We also visited a very large "women's garden" project that has over 100 garden plots that can be used by poor women. Each plot has water available to it. It is a cooperative project with CTB, the Belgium Government.

We went to the school in Tamara (sp?) and evaluated the possibility of having a school garden.

It has been a very good trip. Anounou and the others have been great hosts.

I will include more detailed information in my report.

Lonny


Lonny J. Ward
Director of Operations
Feed the World/Institute for Self Reliant Agriculture
M: 801-404-4483  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Crops that I saw in Mali: Maize/Corn, Rice, Vegetables, Sorghum, Millet, Soybean

On my first day in Mali with Anounou we went to visit a successful farmer near Selingue in southern Mali. He took us to see his corn fields. I was impressed with what I saw. Most of the rural farmers in Africa, that I have seen, plant a hill of five plants about a meter apart from each other. I am not sure where this technique originated and I have not been able to find out why they do it this way. The best answer that I have been able to get is, the five seeds are in case some of them don't germinate and the spacing is so that it is easier to get between the plants to weed when they get bigger . This farmer planted his corn in rows with the proper spacing between rows and between plants, 60-80 cm between rows and 15 to 20 cm between plants in a row.

Looking at recently planted corn fields in Mali


Rice fields ready to harvest near Selingue, Mali
The farmer then took us to his rice farm near the Niger river. He was in the middle of harvesting the rice. These fields are flood irrigated from the river so they can grow rice all year around. Typically, they plant in July and harvest in December then plant again in January and harvest in June.

With added water almost any vegetable is grown in these gardens in Ouelessabougou
In this community garden I saw a very wide variety of vegetables and herbs. Tomatoes, spinach, onion, kale, sweet potato, corn, beans, soybeans, and many others. The climate is very good for growing just about anything here. The challenge comes during the dry season when everything has to be watered by hand. This community garden has five hand dug wells.

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
In Bamako we stopped at ICRISAT, The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics and met with Eva a sorghum scientist from Germany that works here to develop better varieties of sorghum and millet. 
Mali has a climate that is conducive to growing a wide variety of produce, from cereal grains to soybeans to vegetables to fruits. With improved cultivation and processing techniques, Mali could produce plenty of food to meet the needs of her population and could export also. I look forward to using the Feed the World program to help the Ouelessabougou Alliance teach improved farming practices.




Rice production on small rural farms in Mali near the Niger River


Rice is a very important crop for the farmers in Mali and is one of the principal foods of the Mali people. In this post I will describe using text and pictures the fascinating process of rice production by the rural farmers in southern Mali.
Rice fields flooded by the Niger River irrigation canals
Because these fields are flood irrigated from the river, they can grow rice all year around. Typically, they plant in July and harvest in December then plant again in January and harvest in June. The farmers purchased the immature rice plants from the nurseries and plant them by hand in their fields.

Rice fields ready to harvest near Selingue, Mali
The rice takes four to five months to mature depending on the variety. During this time the fields are flooded several times depending on the weather and the needs of the rice. The Mali farmers pay the government water office for the water that they use.

The rice is harvested by workers with a hand scythe and gathered in bundles
This rice field has recently been harvested. The rice plant is cut and laid on top of the remaining stalk for several days to dry out. It is then gathered in bundles and carried to the road ready to be threshed.
A portable rice thresher that goes from field to field doing custom threshing
Portable threshing machines are hauled around the valley from field to field to thresh the rice. The rice straw is either burned there in the fields or taken back to the villages to be used as animal feed during the dry season. The rice is spread out on the ground and allowed to dry before being milled, cleaned, and sold in the market.

Rice drying on plastic tarps near the farmers home
This farmer spread his rice on large tarps near his home. The roads make a nice flat place to lay the tarps to dry the rice. Occasionally I have seen the grains spread out on the paved roads even without a tarp. Sometimes the traffic will attempt to avoid the grain, but sometimes they will just drive right over the top of it.

Using the breeze to clean the chaff from the rice before taking it to market
Once the milling has taken place the rice is cleaned by pouring it out onto a large tarp while a breeze is blowing. The lighter rice chaff will be carried to the side, leaving just the rice itself. It is not uncommon to see chickens, goats, or other farm animals helping themselves to the chaff. The rice is scooped into 90 kg bags and hauled to the market using donkey carts or various other forms of transportation. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Mali trip to the Ouelessabougou Alliance

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The Ouelessebougou Alliance has been blessing the lives of the people in Mali for over 20 years. They have developed strong relationships in the communities and have garnered the trust of the people in the villages where they work.
Government structure:
Democratic government that changes every 5 years in a peaceful transition
The main offices change but the lower levels stay consistent
114 political parties
President appoints mid level officials
Mayors are elected
Villages have chiefs that are positions passed from father to son
There is little interaction between villages and other government levels
Very little money trickles to the villages
There are government extension workers that go to the villages but they are not consistent

Schools:
The Alliance supports 11 primary schools and 25 villages ( down from 72) about 75% of the students that started finish through 6th grade.
There are secondary schools in the area that have a similar completion rate of about 75%

Religion:
The country is 95% muslim. The church is not officially in this country but there are members. Anounou is not a member but he wants to become one. Several of his children are members. There is no terrorism except to the far north of Mali.

Nutrition:
The diets are very poor and consist of millet and okra. There is no milk, eggs, meat, etc., on a regular basis. Some gardens are grown.

Crops:
In the lowlands by the river rice is grown is flood irrigation. They have about 14 varieties available to them. The farmer that we talked with uses three of those varieties. The rice is harvested and left resting in bundles on top of the rice stalks for several days to dry. Portable rice processing machines travel around the area pulled by donkeys. Small gas engines power the small machines that extract the rice from the rest of the plant. The rice is bagged up and sent to be dried hulled and sold. The stalks are often burned near the edge of the field. The ones that are not burned are used as animal feed.

Corn/Maize is grown away from the river and becomes the basis for one of their main meals, To, which is a corn flour dish. This is very similar to Nsima of Malawi and Ugale of Kenya.

Fruit:
There is a large variety of fruits available here, some of them are cultivated and some grow wild. I am familiar with some of the fruits such as mango, papaya, banana, but others I have not heard of or tasted before such as;
  • Zebon is about the size of a lemon and very sour. The outer shell is cut open to reveal a brain like fruit, the fruit surrounds large pits. You suck the fruit off of the pits and spit them out. It is like eating the sour patch candies, sweet and sour.
  • Tongue is a small found yellow fruit about the size of a bing cherry. It grows on bushes in the wild. There is a large pit inside and the fruit is somewhat sour.
  • Shea is a medium sized fruit that looks like a small light green pepper. Inside the fruit is a large nut a little smaller than a pecan. The nut can be hulled or peeled and the meat has a sticky milky substance. The oil is used in lotions and the nuts can be roasted and eaten. The fruit was not ripe so I could not tell what it would taste like. It was like a very young green apple.
  • Cashew is a funny looking fruit about the size of a green pepper with the cashew nut stuck tto the end of it. The fruit itself is bright yellow and very fibrous. It is extremely juicy and drips all over you as you eat it. The cashew nut has an acid inside that can burn the skin. The nut has to be roasted before it can be consumed. (Before Anounou told me about the acid, I tried to bite open the cashew to see the nut inside. After he told me about the acid that can burn your hands if you are not careful, I went and washed my mouth out several times. About half an hour later my lips began to burn. I rinsed them several more times. Later that evening they felt numb and were a little sensitive when I touched them. The feeling was similar to the feeling that I feel when the deadening agent that the dentist uses is wearing off.)
Market:
Ouelessebougou has a large open air market every Friday. We went to Selingue which has a large open air market on Saturday. It is similar to the other markets that I have seen in developing countries. This one had small shops with all sorts of food items both prepared and raw. We purchased chofufu, which were small deep fried balls of soybean dough. They were very tasty. In addition to all of the local products there were many vendors of clothing, sunglasses, jewelry, cds, and other items imported. The market was quite dirty and very crowded but people were used to it. In the shops that sold food they often had ways of washing your hands before eating. The little chofufu balls were made with a little tail so that you could pick them up by the tail and eat them throwing the tail away so that your hands never touched your food.

Tamala school:
We visited the Tamala school to investigate the possibility of setting up an agricultural training program that would include a garden area and classes in nutrition and gardening. This is a very desirable program because it infuses the students with a very practical education that will help them throughout their lives and also give them skills that they can teach to their families.

There is adequate area around the school to plant a garden. Setting up the garden would require several steps. The more the students and parents are involved the more successful the project will be. They should feel ownership of the school agriculture program.
  1. The first step is to select an area for the garden. Right between the schools might be the best place for it. If everyone is constantly seeing it, the garden will get better care and it will become a source of pride for the school.
  2. The selected area needs to be fenced off and strict rules as to who can enter, have to be enforced. Many trampling feet or hungry animals can quickly destroy a garden. The community can decide what kind of fence they want and how they will go about putting it in place. We have found that our project are more successful if some sort of work is required before we start the training.
  3. I would recommend that a water storage tank, fed by gutters from the school roof, be constructed. The school session does not correspond with the rainy season so the garden will have to be continually watered. (This is actually very good because they will learn that they can grow food even during the dry season if they develop their water sources.)
  4. The soil is very deficient in organic matter. The students should be recruited to bring leaves, grass, manure, and any other organic matter that they can find to be mixed into the soil. Without the organic matter the soil does not have sponge activity and the water that is put on the soil either leaches through or runs off. This is a great way for the children to gain ownership and to learn about organic matter and composting.
  5. The soil is very hard and will need to be tilled. It may take several times to loosen the soil up deep enough for some of the root vegetables. This is also a great opportunity for the students involvement, parents would be welcome also.
  6. Training for the students and teachers that will be working in the garden will then be carried out so that they can start the project. Expectations should be set and explained and a plan for follow up should be set up.
The other part of the program that is equally critical is the nutrition classes in the school. The students need to understand the importance of eating the vegetables that they are growing. Aquiring a taste for some of the vegetables may take some focused encouragement.
  1. The first step in the nutrition program is to do a 24 hour recall study with a significant group of the students. This has the students tell us what they have eaten in the last 24 hours. With this data we can work with Dr. Paul Johnston at BYU to determine the nutrient deficiencies in their diets and put together a plan for increasing their level of nutrition.
  2. It is not critical but highly recommended that at the same time height and weight measurements are taken, as well as somehow documenting their scholastic performance. The parents and teachers have to be convinced that this program is helping their children at school and will help their children at home also.
  3. With the help of Dr. Johnston and his students at BYU, we can develop lesson plans for the teacher that will be specific for their needs.
  4. The lesson plans need to be translated into Bambara? for the teacher to present them to the students.
  5. It is always helpful if the parents are included in the learning process. Classes could be set up after school or in the evenings for parents to attend so that the teachings are reinforce.
  6. TO encourage the families to learn and implement the lessons that they are taught, a home garden program with a contest and prizes could be implemented. A successful garden reqires a lot of work. An added incentive or competition can make the work more desirable.
In summary the Tamala school could greatly benefit from a nutrition/gardening program. It would take work but it would yield great results.
Recommendations:
This has been a great opportunity to see the work that you are doing in Mali. May lives have been blessed by your service. Thank you for allowing me to visit you operation in Ouelessebougou.
Going forward I recommend that at the next leadership meeting of the Alliance, I have an opportunity to talk with the group and answer any questions they have regarding my evaluation. This would also be a great time for them to ask questions about our program and for me to get a feeling for the direction that the Alliance would like to go with these recommentations.


Mali is added to my list of countries

The Ouelessebougou Alliance asked Feed the World to evaluate the opportunities that they have for introducing gardening and crop production into the villages where they work in Mali. I was asked to meet with Anounou, their in country director and have him show me what they had in mind. I spent four days in Mali looking at the country's agriculture and talking with the staff and the villagers. Mali is a delightful country. I will probably have several posts about Mali agriculture.

Weekly market in Selingue in southern Mali
One of the days we went to the local open air market. It was much like the other open air markets that I have been to in Africa. We bought some deep fried soy bean scones, chofufu, that were quite good. I was looking for the way that the local people traded their agricultural products.

We enjoyed some chofufu at the market.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Time management- finances

Do something even if it is wrong. When I am overwhelmed I should plan and work intelligently, often I burry my head in some menial taks and forget about what is important.

Nest egg- Joseph's success in getting our chickens to lay eggs.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

In Gratitude for Your Service Here is a Chicken - Pay it Forward

This may sound crazy, but today I was offered a special gift of gratitude from Tsuma, one of the villagers that I was working with... a chicken. To paraphrase a common high school phrase "This is a third world gift" I felt honored that he would value my services so highly. 
Tsuma on the right and some of his group members at the community garden.
These villagers are very poor and have almost nothing. Their homes are made of sticks and mud with dried grass for the roof. They cook over open fires and have no bathroom facilities. They are a generous people. To give one of their chickens is a fortune. It provides the only source of animal protein that the family gets. I felt very honored that they appreciated my teaching so much.

Not wanting to offend him or try and take a chicken on the plane with me, I had the idea come to me to have him pay it forward. I asked him to choose another person in the village, give them the chicken in my name, and then train them on proper care of the chicken. I told him that when I returned, he could introduce me to the person and I could see how the chicken and his teaching had changed their life.
... Another one for the list of things that I would never have imagined myself doing. 
Here is a picture of this great man showing off his bee hive to me
Tsuma is a great example of someone that has started with very little, but is learning, taking chances, and improving his life and the lives of those in his village. This month he will be featured in a Farm Field Day in his village. Feed the World, the local government extension program and other Non Government Organizations (NGOs) are sponsoring the Farm Filed Day to teach villagers in the neighboring area how to improve their lives by producing their own food. It may seem simple and basic to us, but it is the difference between life and death to them. 
If you would like to help Tsuma and others like him, go to feedtheworld.org and look for ways that you can help.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Government

Feed the World's program in Peru has become even more successful because we have been able to partner with the regional government of Piura and the local government in Frias.
Oscar-our in country manager, Jaime Ayosa Assistant Manager of International Cooperation-, Rick Brimhall- Board of directors, Angel Garcia-Economic Development Manager , Lonny- Program Director, Daniella Morocho-Project Communicator
Feed the World selected the extension agents and gave them technical training and continuous support. The regional government  ... and the local government of Frias...

Because of this collaborative effort we were able to reach many more families than we normally would have been able to reach.


Food Security- Having a secure food supply for 6 to12 months

The beautiful highlands of Ecuador are home to many rural farm families. In many cases their diets are nutrient deficient. They live in very beautiful areas, but do not have the understanding of what foods will give them the nutrients that they need.
The home and beautiful hillsides surrounding of one of our students in Ecuador.
One of the keys to our program at Feed the World is food security. We teach our student families the importance of having a balanced diet, especially for their small children. We teach them to grow gardens with a variety of vegetables that will give them complete nutrition. We also teach them how to improve their harvests and then store the excess.
Board member Rick Brimhall and the Ecuador staff with a recent graduate in front of her supply of food
In addition to teaching them about vegetable and crop production, we also teach them how to better care for their animals. Guinea pigs or cuyes are a very common meat animal in these areas. They reproduce quickly and are very easy to raise. They not only provide a very good source of high quality protein, but the surplus guinea pigs can be sold for additional family income.

Guinea pigs or cuyes raised by the small farmers to feed their families and to sell
In most cases, our student family's level of nutrition can be raised to levels of the first world countries in less than a year. The amazing part is that by teaching them how to do it themselves, it becomes a habit that they will have for the rest of their lives. We encourage them to teach their neighbors and friends in a pay it forward fashion.
During the learning process, we see hope and confidence come into their  lives. It is not uncommon for our graduates to go forward trying new techniques, crops, markets, etc. We encourage them to try new things and learn from their experiences.

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