Mama Mayila and the Hope team - dedicated volunteers, Uncles Williams, Mohammed, Hassan and Musa and Aunty Zainab - are crossing the Mabanta River to catch up on Hope Sakuma's progress and meet with our stakeholders to finalize a project developed over the summer with farmers to help make Sanda Magbolontor sustainable.
Mama Mayila's first stop is to Hope Sakuma's demonstration farm and our first rice paddy turning golden, pregnant with a “full belly” as our farmers say and ready soon to harvest. And as these paddies show, Azolla and rice are a truly match made in heaven!
This harvest is looking so good we know our Hope Sakuma farmer field school is going to persuade farmer's with ease of the benefits Azolla is set to bring - reduced fertilizer costs and weeding time and a very profitable rice-azolla-duck-vegetable system, widely used in what are now middle income countries.
Mama Mayila picks up a handful of the Azolla from Njala, working it's magic and fertilizing the seed.
We've been working with our farmers over the summer to find out thier families food needs for a year and we think, depending on the household size, with 1-4 paddys each, our farmers will have enough food for the year and full bellies in rainy season, as well as benefiting from improved nutrition and livelihoods and all the while dramatically reducing our rice paddys’ co2 emissions.
And we're going to show, here on our demonstration farm, Azolla’s myriad benefits and applications working in practice and showing Azolla can not only help improve food security and nutrition in Sanda Magbolontor but also peoples’ health and the local economy by drawing on proven projects from IVS landscapes around the world, developing sustainable livelihoods that help these forest communities to intensify crop production and diversify livelihoods building sustainable communities and helping stop rampant deforestation in the chiefdom.
It’s a bold ambition only achievable if the new system truly benefits the 23 village communities we work with but a summer of discussions with key stakeholders, culminating with this meeting late into the night of Mama Mayila, village headmen, Aunty Kay, Councillor, Speaker and Pa Alimamy, Regent Chief has won their support and given us the encouragement to go forward.
As our partners at Society 4 Climate Change Communications has oft reported deforestation in Sanda Magbolontor continues apace with a very few benefiting from timber sales to foriegners. The meeting agrees that the trade is bad for the roads and ferry and doesn't benefit communities or even sometimes landlowners. It's going to be a tough trade for some in the chiefdom, giving up the lucrative timber trade but the meeting agrees the projects mission:
"Let Sanda Magbolontor commit to become the first sustainable Chiefdom, producing enough to feed everyone in the Chiefdom and processing chiefdom crops to add value and make more than enough money to replace timber money and stop deforestation for good."
The meeting also agrees to interview women and youth to shadow each member of the project team to learn skills and act as deputies.
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