Following on from our concerns over the money we have been spending on food aid we asked both Milton and Joseph to provide us with more information about why the villages seem unable to produce sufficient crops to feed everyone. It seems that the rapid expansion of the population has meant that there is insufficient land in production – and also that both villages have a significant population of people who are too old or too sick (HIV/Aids) to work the land. Joseph said, ‘Poor soil quality, cold weather stops maize and beans growing’ – and added ‘ We need a trained professional to look at soil and advise about keeping it fertile.’
Milton told us that the land rented as the football field has been temporarily used to grow maize while the school was closed – you can see the goal posts surrounded by crops! – he hopes to harvest around 120kgs of maize. Also the land behind the community home has been planted with trees – they will be ready to cut down and sell in three years.
Milton had consulted the local land owners and said that the consensus was:
· Commercial fertilisers are needed to improve the soil – local compost lacks nutrients
· Improved storage for crops, better containers to keep the maize flour in good condition for longer
· Improved quality of seeds – bought commercially rather than saved - as this produces better crop yields for beans and maize
· Range of seeds purchased for growing vegetables – leaf vegetables, potatoes etc
· Possibly have an agricultural extension worker provide advice on modern methods.
Before we take action we are trying to identify a local agricultural organisation which can offer mentoring and advice to the village landowners to ensure they get the support they need to improve their farming practice. We won’t be able to affect the second crop for 2020 – which is mainly beans and a little maize but hopefully we will have a plan, and some funds, in place in time for the first sowing in 2021.
We have been waiting to hear whether the schools will re-open in September. Milton and Joseph have both held village meetings and completed the questionnaires they were sent to ascertain whether the schools can meet the required ‘Standing Operating Procedures’ – it seems most unlikely that any rural school without running water and electricity could meet them all. We were advised that the President would make an announcement on 26th August but we are still waiting… and will have to let you know what happens via another Covid Update in due course…
Diana visited Namayili earlier this week to take Joseph the money we have had donated to complete the school kitchen. Joseph was able to show Diana some of the challenges the school is facing which will help us consider the priorities for developments in 2021. We look forward to seeing the kitchen improvements.
In the meantime Irene is continuing share food with any children in Kyemula who are not getting enough to eat and we are ready to open the schools as soon as we hear we can.