So August’s 10-day trip is all about the progress made at our farming co-op Manays, Sanda Magbolontho Chiefdom. Port Loko District and as you'll see it’s a lot of progress!
First, the sequentially planted upland rice – especially bred for the different terrains in Sierra Leone by a team led by a Sierra Leonenan - looking very lush.
Next up the cassava farm - full of drought-resistant, highly nutritious cassava - looking very healthy indeed and just waiting to be turned into gari!
When the District Agricultural Officer, Mr Koroma, visited for a surprise 2 day fact-finding mission for our registration he was received with respect by the Elders and members of the co-op. Mr Koroma was amazed at the work put in; never having seen this much land cleared by hand and indeed the farmers had to get more than 100 men from neighbouring villages to lend a hand.
So our deal is simple: we supply the seed and food for labour and we split the harvest 3 ways – one third for seed to dry and plant more land; one third to the co-op to feed themselves or sell at market price and one third to support our interim care and kinship fostering programmes. We also give some help with drying areas and storage facilities and provide support in setting up a gender-balanced co-op and accessing available interventions like fertilizer and training but we strongly believe that a self-governing community co-operative setting their own non-discriminatory rules is more likely to self-regulate effectively.
Second day Mr Koroma and Field Officer Haja visited our wetland nerica rice to see the nursed seedlings being planted
When everyone reached the intercropped groundnut farm Mr Koroma just let out a long whistle at how far groundnut the spread right the way to the tree-line.
Later in the day Co-op Chair Mr Bangura went to borrow 10 bags of fertilizer from Field Officer Haja while we await our allocation. Now our fertilizer took a very long time to track down but track it down we did - there’s a good system but it’s difficult for farmers to access at the right time - and the District Agricultural Office has confirmed we’re going to have enough urea to apply to the rice at the right time in its growing cycle.
The District Agricultural Office also asked for a farmer who can read and write to come and be trained to come back and train other farmers - peer to peer training is a great way to spread good practice