We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Farming Cha-Cha-Cha

Tim has been doing the cha-cha-cha on the Conservation Agricultural (CA) Project, focussing on getting new groups of farmers together for the next training which will start in September. As is often the way, it sometimes feels a little bit like doing the cha-cha-cha with “one-step-forward, two-steps back” (or is it two-steps-forward, one-step-back?)

Whatever the steps, Tim arrived in Kagee (a sub-village of Kayenze) last Monday for the village meeting being planned by the village chairman. He wasn’t happy to get all the way there to find that it had not actually been planned at all and so no one was there. They rescheduled for the following day, planning that Esther would go. But when Esther arrived on Tuesday, she was told there was a “msiba” (bereavement) thus everyone was off paying their condolences. After our third failure on Friday, we wondered if we would ever get another group together from Kayenze! Cha-cha-cha.  But then we had a forward step on Tuesday. A huge number of people turned up from Kagee, all interested in joining the new training group. We are only looking for thirty! The first approved thirty to forty farmers from both sub-villages of Lutale and Kagee to prepare their fields are in! That's the weeding and mulching quick-step for them. Cha-cha-cha.

We are also excited about the possibility of a new CA group starting up in a Nyamililo, a village in the Sengerema District, about 20km away on the other side of the Gulf of Mwanza. From talking to Pastor Tito Samwel there, it is a needy area agriculturally and by working through the church, the project has great potential to help the community. Training here will also start in September.

We are really pleased to be starting to work in the Sengerema District. Also in this area, we have connected with an American missionary (and an expert in soil science) doing similar work to us. Tim, Esther and Amon went last week to look at some of the farms and meet with farmers he is working with. He is currently working on pulling together CA trainers working in the Lake Zone to share ideas and experience.
Looking at the difference in the soils.
The handful on the right, from the CA field,  is rich in compost
material after being replenished through cover crops.
 The handful on the left is regular soil from an adjacent field.
Makuna in the demonstration plot
Maize growing with a cover crop of jackbeans
This is a shelter used to dry and store the harvested crops

Buzz on the Bees

On Tuesday, while Esther was in the Kagee village meeting, our family was also in Kayenze, with the beekeepers. We had our last beekeepers meeting before Julian, our bee expert, arrives from the UK to do the honey harvest training (theoretical and also we trust, practical!)  
Chai and maandazi with the beekeepers group
We have been doing the cha-cha-cha with the bee project too! We sadly lost two hives recently in Kayenze to the sisimizi (small ants). After the vandalism of a hive earlier, this was a gutting two steps backwards. But we keep looking and moving forward and after stressing the importance of greasing the wires holding the hives in the trees to keep the ants at bay, we went to see the hive at Amos's farm which is busy with bees.
We drove as far as we could up the rocky track. Then continued through the fields on foot, pleased to the see the progress with Amos' pigeon peas and jack beans (he is also in the agricultural group). He also has some great mango trees and the hive tool came in useful for peeling and cutting the mangos that Pastor Amon knocked out of the trees for Amisadai and Louisa to eat!
Out to the hives
Rachel and Amos check the hives
Back to the car

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