Things are good here in Nombe / Rubugeri Uganda.
I’ve started a project that I will do for the next two weeks based on a seed bank idea and also a supply and demand analysis for the local farmers.
The seed bank is something where we have clinics to teach farming techniques and once they have developed those for the common vegetables grown here (Irish potatoes, yams, beans) we help introduce new crops by loaning them seeds from the seed bank of say tomatoes, cauliflowers, beet roots, Swiss chard, kale and zucchini as a few examples.
They can plant seeds and sell the seedling plants to other farmers or raise the plants to maturity and eat them to diversify their diet or sell them at the local market on Fridays.
The key is they have to pay us back for the seeds in the end to get new seeds because we’ve learned that handouts of any kind are always bad in the long term. So we call it a seed bank for two reasons – it’s going to be stocked with all kinds of seeds that are common and many very uncommon and second it’s a bank and use the seeds as a micro loan of goods that has to be paid back.
The second part is interviewing the market owners to see what they sell the most of and what they’d like more of to sell that’s grown locally rather than bringing it in from Kisore or Kabale that are a few hours away.
The last part is to interview all of the local lodges – there are about 10 that are here to accommodate tourists who pay the high fees to track gorillas and see them in the wild. If we can figure out the right demand from the lodges we can convince the local farmers to plant more crops for selling and different types of crops like the ones I mentioned above.
We have a clinic today, Wednesday and again next Wednesday to teach farming techniques like composting and non pesticide plant health classes. Once they finish a series of clinics they get their first seeds.
After I leave another volunteer will take over to carry on seeing these clinics and to visit the seed bank farmers who’ve received seeds and measure progress and offer advice.
There is a lot more to the story but I have to write all of this on my mobile phone and send out as there is no Wi-Fi anywhere in the village and we do get 2g and sometimes, sporadically we get edge network data coverage and that’s when I can send emails via mobile phone.
This is a picture of the Boda, a small motorcycle, that Henry a local plant and agriculture expert will take me around to the lodges and farmers on. There are no vehicles in town – only the lodges and tourist companies have those. Henry will also help me translate at the seed bank clinics and when we meet with seed bank farmers.
There is only one Boda for the entire team so we mostly walk everywhere – it’s about 4 kilometers in to Rubugeri the local village and I walk there and back each morning and night.
I’m really enjoying it all but it’s very primitive, no refrigeration anywhere in the towns or villages. That’s taking some getting used to but is an adventure at the same time. I had a couple warm beers Monday when they did a welcome get together for me and warm beer isn’t so bad 😉
Respect, professionalism and perseverance. Life is a gift. Living is a choice.