Today we woke up to a light rain. Who would have thought that it would rain in Africa? But living in a rainforest climate, it is likely to come! One realization in my eyes is that on days of rainfall, are people able to work during the day? For jobs that are labor-intensive, I would believe many would not be able to work due to the weather. This would also mean that if a wage is unearned, that perhaps their families may go unfed. So while we know the rain to be life-giving, today was a reminder of job insecurity within African countries.
With the rainfall today, our team did a tour of the CEFA farm where we were staying. There is so many individual projects that are taking place, today was a day to see just a glimpse of all that is being done.
A typical day will see 2-3 flat bed trucks bring as many as 100 people to work at the farm for the day. Everyone is dropped off at the front gate where a morning devotion is led by either Roy D or one of the farm managers. These are shared in Sango, the local trade language.
After the devotion, everyone disperses into their respective jobs. Today we would see some of the efforts to establish cover crops, the agroforestry landscape, aquaculture ponds, and the nutrition garden.
|The perennial peanut as a cover crop in the "Garden of Eden"|
There are many purposes of a cover crop in a landscape. In a tropical climate, rainfall can quickly deplete soil nutrients. Legume crops produce nitrogen in the soil, which is desired for plant growth. If a cover crop can provide this valuable nutrient, it will make other plants and trees grow substantially more efficient. We looked at two legume cover crops that the farm is interested in establishing—kudzu and ground peanut. Those in the southern US know kudzu for its undesirable ability to take over a landscape because of its prolific growing habit. But if the plant is kept in check it builds a great soil biomass while providing a great nutrition source for the landscape. Ground peanuts are an unreproductive plant that also produces nitrogen. It grows closer to the ground as it spreads, so it does not require as much management as kudzu. It does, however, seem to spread more prolifically through its rhizomes when left unchecked.
Here are a few pictures of workers on the farm using a board on a string to pack down the kudzu from growing and spreading onto trees in the landscape.
|stompimg down the kudzu|
|the stomping down tool :-)|
We also went to see the nutrition garden. Here they are just beginning to establish vegetables as the rainy season begins. Insect feeding has been problematic, so early establishment of these vegetable plants has been slow. The CEFA farm has a night watchman, and his family lives here near the nutrition garden. His children seem to be tasked with keeping the garden growing well.
|Roy D. in the newly planted nutrition (vegetable) garden|
Beside the garden are 6 individual aquaculture ponds. These ponds have tilapia fish that are harvested every 8-10 months and sold in the town’s market for profit. This money would go back to the farm to sustain its work, such as purchasing additional fish.
|One of the Tilapia ponds|
|Denise with H and a friendly kitten|
|We were blessed with a delicious meat and rice meal.|
|Aleta catch up with H's family|