Friday, August 19, 2016

C.A.R. (Wednesday, July 6)

Roy with a new fruit.
From guest blogger, the wonderful husband, Roy Thagard! 

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
For our afternoon time, we were invited to be guests for lunch in Kenzu, a village on the Cameroon side of the border just a few miles from our location.  Today was the day that the Ramadan fast was broken, so it was a time of celebration.  Aleta told us our greeting for the day, “Barka de sala” which means Blessings of peace.  We spent time getting to know H, a very dear Fulani friend of Aleta.  It was wonderful seeing the children dressed in new clothes made just for the celebration of the day.  Even the men in the village would take time to come and greet their family, many traveling from great distances for this celebration.  We were honored to be invited to celebrate such a special occasion with these new friends.
Denise with H and a friendly kitten
We were blessed with a delicious meat and rice meal. 
Aleta catch up with H's family
 Later in the day we walked and visited other family members and friends in this same village.  Roy D. noted fruit trees that he had once planted in the village continue to thrive.  He was excited these trees were being cared for.  The family also took us to the edge of town where they were establishing personal family garden areas.  

The ladies showing their garden preparation.

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