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INT06 - Foundations for Farming: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: August 8, 2017

Report on Foundations for Farming Training Trip July/August 2017


Angoche, Mozambique


good incomeOn the drive down to Angoche with Inacio he mentioned that there has been some movement in the cashew nut production. Three companies have started to buy cashews off farmers, paying between 300 to 800 meticash (US$5-$12). The best price was given by the Indians who sent a large boat to buy up crops. Once full it left and the price dropped.

The government has also installed a rice processing plant about 60km from Angoche but it seems that it is only running for a very small part of the year.

The rainy season was very poor, with hardly any rain until March (normally starts in November). Many people planted crops only to see them dry up to nothing.

new facilitiesThere are now just under 200 churches that have been planted in the area by Tarikhi ya Haakhi. They have been encouraging members in discipleship and have been seeing great results. Even in Angoche there was a witch doctor that everyone was afraid of but Inacio got some church members to go with him and share the good news of Jesus to him. The witch doctor was very thankful that they had come to visit him and was glad to hear of the good news.

The centre that is being built is near completion - a large hall, kitchen, toilet block, offices and classrooms have been completed. They have also set up another centre for training people each week that is 40km from Angoche in the area called Hanetoria – Fulne. This is the area they are thinking of setting up a demonstration for agriculture.

animated discussionWe visited the Sinhanne church and gave them some encouragement about farming and restoring the land to what God had intended it. The ladies in the church were very animated in the discussion wanting to learn more about Foundations for Farming. Juan is a leader in the church and promised to tell them more. 

Training Course Review

We visited a couple of farms to see what methods have been adopted. The first farm was Juan's and then Inacio's farm.

The main things we identified that needed some retraining were:
- Plant spacing too wide to accommodate inter-cropping
- Some mulch but not enough
- Lack of compost
- Encouraged them regarding a change of mindset to ask why they hadn’t done some things well

Plant Spacing:
spacing an issueInter-cropping has been causing them issues with management of the fields. Different crops require different needs at different times meaning you end up tripping over yourself trying to manage them together.

It is far better to separate out the crops and then rotate for the next season. This helps with canopy closure as well, which then helps to prevent weeds, keep moisture in the soil and reduce the temperature. 

We highlighted the benefit of mulch especially in a dry season. They broke into groups to discuss how they could better prepare for mulching the fields as they found it hard work to get a good cover. Their answers included:
- Make a fire break to stop other people’s fires from burning the field
- Start to collect mulch early before people start fires
- Use crop residues
- Grow a green crop
- Use what we have to mulch a smaller area well, to enable us to see the difference

good compostOnly one person bothered to make compost this year (Inacio). The main reason given was that it was too hard and expensive to get manure to provide the nitrogen component. We challenged this and came up with the following:
- Use of legume green material such as beans, peas and groundnuts to add up to 20% of the compost pile is a good source of nitrogen.
- Start collecting manure early, little by little so you have a good amount by the time you need to make your pile
- The use of Urea fertilizer added to the pile can be an easy alternative if that is needed and available

We encouraged them to think about why they didn’t do some of the methods. What is it that stops you? What does God want you to do differently so you can gain enthusiasm for what you are trying to achieve. 

We used the example of Haggai in the bible “You have planted much but harvested little”. God sparked an enthusiasm in his people. 

Personal Stories

good cropsJuan
Juan is a leader in the Sinhanne church we visited, having been there since it started in 2002. He is an evangelist. He has 6 children and now lives with one wife.

He was trained in Foundations for Farming in 2016 and then planted his cassava field. He says the main thing that he learned from the training that he put into practice was to not burn the field and to plant in straight lines.

The cassava field was 70 by 80 meters planted in November 2016 and he is looking forward to a good harvest of around 25 sacks of tubers. He may harvest the field this year or might be able to wait for another year if the family has enough food.

The plants were planted at larger spacing than the recommended 1m by 1m but we discovered this was done so he could plant groundnuts in between the rows. 

There has been a lot of termite damage in the field, mostly where the plants have been damaged and the termites have been eating the dead damaged material.

first ChristianVictor
Victor was the first Koti to accept Jesus when the ship blew off course and landed on the Island in the original beginnings of Tarikhi ya Haakhi. This happened in 1998.

He has a farm that is quite a long way away from Angoche. We were talking to him about what he sees as some of the issues people are having in putting into practice Foundations for Farming methods. He said that often our farms are too big so we aren’t able to cover it all well with mulch, and we often interplant to save space which is causing difficulties. 

He farmed rice, maize and cassava this last year. His rice was sown using the broadcast method and he said yielded 37 x 50kg bags from 70x50m of land. For his maize he yielded 100 kg from 70x50m. He will start to harvest his cassava soon.

late plantingDomingo lives very near the second training center in Hanetoria – Fulne. He lives with his wife and four young children.

He planted a field this year that was 70m by 60m in size, inter-cropping beans, groundnuts and cassava. He has harvested 21 sacks of groundnuts and two bags of beans. 

He was late planting his crops as he was busy rebuilding his house that had fallen down. It was his priority to get a roof over his head to protect them from the rain but this meant his crop yield was reduced. 

He sold most of his groundnuts to help pay for the building of his house. 

Ideas for the Future

We discussed with Inacio the way forward. He is keen to explore the idea of setting up a demonstration area at the second, more rural, training centre where there is access to land. He will come back to us on how this looks but it may be that getting some of these guys to farm in the one area would help them to encourage each other with the methods. We discussed various ways that we had seen this work in other areas, both doing a communal plot or small individual ones. The benefit of this would be the encouragement and ability to easily supervise the participants all in the one place, which would give the methods more traction.

We think that the next step is for them to get a really good small plot going on their own fields so they can see the results for themselves. It would be more economic for this to happen than us coming back each year to retrain. Once they see something it may provide the spark for the trainers to rise up and to start wanting to train others in the methods.

They will have a think and get back to us as to how this might look and how we might be able to empower them to do so.




Key people: Theoneste and Alfred



traineesThis was our first time in Rwanda and this training was held for members of the 193 churches who potentially would become trainers in their own villages / churches. The leadership of the group was also present.

We ran a three day course and had a lot of interaction with the people. After the first day we felt like they were questioning everything, which was good. The idea of minimal digging and mulching did not go down very well initially and we got comments such as:
- This will be too much cost and then I will produce a loss
- It will bring rats and mice to eat the harvest
- Mulch only works for certain crops
- We have to dig deep to remove that awful grass

The mindset and faithfulness teaching went well. We told a story of elephants that used to be scared away from maize fields by the villagers beating the drums when the maize was ready for harvest. After some time the elephants realized that when the drums were beating that actually meant the maize was ready to eat, so instead of running away they then came when the drums were beating. They changed their mindset. The people understood this and are thinking maybe these new methods are like the beating of a drum that they need to change their mindset over. 

Current Yields

We collated the sizes of people's farms and the crops they grow, focusing on getting the maize yield and area from the farm to show them that the yields they are getting are low. On average they are getting the normal 1 ton per hectare of maize that most traditional farming in Africa gets.

It was really good that they already knew the size of their farms and the yield that they get.

There was one guy in the group Leonidas, who has been trained in some new methods for the last couple of years. He has been getting increased yields each year as he implements some conservation into his farming. He started with 300kg, then increased up to 500kg, and now is getting 1,500kg from 1 ha. 

Comments from Participants

Some comments from the trainees at the end of training were:
- Used to plough and dig whole farm but here we learnt just need to dig small holes where put seed
- Using new method will help our land to have better structure and probably increase the harvest
- Write down what is happening in the farm
- Saw fellow African how they are farming, and wants to go there and see what is happening there.
- Adopt habit of planning and preparing budget to know if we are making profit or loss it will help us in what we are doing
- Saw good instrument to measure the PH of the land. Wants info so they can buy
- Realized why land goes away when raining, no covering with mulch and too much digging
- Maize planting was so good, wants to teach others
- Learnt four principles On Time, At Standard, No Waste, and do all of these with Joy. I learnt many problems in families come from not following those principles. Example: often in village if I follow principles will get good harvest. Other one doesn’t follow principles, and has bad harvest so blamed the one with a good harvest for poisoning his field
- No waste; when harvest beans, burnt or removed the crop residues, now leave in the field
- No waste; normally give left overs to pigs. Now only prepare what we can eat so there is no waste. (culturally have to leave some food on plate to show we are satisfied)
- Preparing Compost, going to try making compost.
- Wasting our energy re digging the whole field. From now I am going to be strict on time and try to apply the methods, especially for using fertilizer. I hope if respect principles harvest will be better.
- Not to plough the whole land, and to cover the land with mulch 

Plans for the Future

The day following the training we met with the leadership and stressed that now it is up to the farmers. We would want to see how they get on for a season and then assess what they next steps are.