DRY, DRY and now rain
The dry season is a time for less activity on the farm. Three months without rain means no growth, so we normally reduce the number of staff who are employed on a daily or weekly basis. No rain is always a challenge for seedlings and young plants but this dry season was an extra challenge as our water supply was "cut" for several weeks. So once our water tanks, total capacity 9000 litres, were emptied, the water for all the young plants had to be fetched in the river a few kilometers from the farm. Hence we had to employ more rather than less people to try to save these plants, and worked hard to provide more shade for these young vulnerable plants ( see picture below).
But 07. September the heavens opened! Torrential rain. Jacques was stranded at his home and tried to prevent flooding in his house, whilst on the farm, trenches were dug to redirect the rain water away from the goat shed and the henhouse.
The dry season is drier and the rainy seasons more dramatic.
Food supply for the staff
In the midday rest period, the staff light a fire and prepare some food. Peanuts, beans and eggplant were harvested at the start of the dry season. Banana and papaya grow and ripen throughout the year and give a more steady supply of fresh food. We work towards establishing a "food forest", food grown on trees which, once established, provide food for years (see picture below) .
As we described in the last newsletter we are testing different ways to
provide groundcover around the coffee bushes. The idea is to work less in the ground, which is positive for soil quality, the climate and will also hopefully help us to use less manpower growing coffee.
The coffee seedlings planted in February have been carefully tended with lots of shade and sufficient water, and most have survived and are very healthy. (See picture below)
The dry season is a good period to do necessary maintenance on the farm. The storage shed/henhouse had to be demolished and rebuilt as termites had destroyed the structure (see picture below). Improving trenches to channel rainwater, is also an ongoing process.
THE COMPENTENCY CENTRE
On FRED'S FARM we test different farming ideas, then offer the knowledge and practical know-how to local farmers.
The young bucks are now mature, and must leave the farm to prevent interbreeding and do their job to breed with local goats to hopefully make them produce more milk. These young bucks have now new homes with Innocent (the village leader), Vincent (a trustworthy, established local farmer), Elie and Michel (both former interns on FRED'S FARM). The young bucks now provide a free breeding service for local goats. Elie is now employed to help follow up this breeding service.
Our "old" buck died in February after eating poisonous leaves. At the beginning of August, Jacques made the long truck journey to the Eastern Province to buy a new buck. This is a looong drive. On the return journey smoke and flames came out from the engine. The driver managed to extinguish the fire and repair the damage. They arrived back at the farm at 1 am. As the buck was being taken to his new home, he broke away. The village leader summoned all the villagers to search and catch the goat. Thanks to the community effort, at 6 am, the newly named COMEDY GOAT, relaxed in his new pen!
Pascasie and the interns, Donate, Marie and Emmanuel,have tenderly cared for all the moringa seedlings, and now these seedlings are healthy young trees! We are very proud of the work they have done (see picture below).
Twa Children to School
The school holidays are drawing to a close, and our farm manager, Providence, is working hard to motivate parents in the Twa village to prioritise sending their children to school. As yet we don't know how many children we will be supporting this coming school year. But our intention is to continue supporting those who have attended, and hopefully more!
Food at school
Through the dry season, Pascasie, our moringa specialist, has followed up the vulnerable moringa seedlings which are planted at the school.
Internship on the farm
The internship program has proven to be an asset for the students themselves, the local community and FRED'S FARM. The small income the students receive provides immediate support for the family, the savings sum the students receive at the end of their internship provides the possibility for investment in an animal or trees, and knowledge gained can be shared. Pascasie and Elie, 2 former students have now permanent employment on FF, and Felix constructed and installed 4 new beehives on the farm. These beehives will be home to pollinator wild bees. They are also works of art!
Elie Mutabazi is the new night watchman at FRED'S FARM, and also has a small position to follow up the dairy goat interbreeding program in the community.
Elie is 20 years old, and lives with his mother Daphanie, father Frederick, 2 brothers and 2 sisters in Kinyana village, not far from the farm. After the holidays, he will start at his last senior high school year.
Elie's dream is to be a big agricultural and animal farmer. During the internship programme at FRED'S FARM, Elie was highly motivated and interested, and told us how he saved both in the village and the school savings programmes. Elie now tells us how FRED'S FARM internship program helped him realise his dreams; he has bought a female pig and 2 hens. The pig has produced 6 piglets which he has sold. The cash from this sale put him in the position to buy a small plot with coffee bushes. In addition, with the male dairy goat buck from FRED's FARM, he hopes to be able to learn first hand about dairy goats, and in time, also produce goat's milk.
Like everywhere the prices in Rwanda have gone up, both salaries and materials. Wages for day- and week field staff has increased by 50%, from 10NOK pr day to 15 NOK. So to continue our work at the same activity level, we need more income.
The internship programme began in 2021 at an extra cost of approximately 10,000 NOK pr year. Since then, altogether 21 pupils have completed this programme and Elie's story, above, gives an idea of the impact this initial investment can make.
At present our main income comes from donations from friends and family, and coffee sale in Norway.
We are asking everyone to consider raising their contribution.
THANK YOU for ALL YOUR SUPPORT!
Every 150 Norwegian kroner is enough to:
support one child to go to school for 1 year or
pay one person to work for 10 days, covering food for their family for 1 month.
RAIN, RAIN and more RAIN
Rwanda hit the headlines in Norway recently due to floods resulting in mortalities and 5000 households left homeless. Despite very high rainfall throughout the rainy season, FRED’S FARM was not directly affected. In the day-to-day running of the farm, having poor internet connection is a practical challenge when there’s heavy rain; difficulty to edit online reporting, difficulty to send photo documentation. But Jacques does his best to keep us well informed!
We acknowledge the additional challenges climate change has on and around FRED’S FARM, and are trying to meet these here and now, and prepare for the expected changes with more rain, and more torrential rain in the rainy season, and a longer, dryer dry season.
Examples of initiatives to prevent soil erosion, nutrient run-off and loss of crops are continued planting of trees and increased groundcover (plants) on the coffee terraces
The farm is run as an organic farm, so no chemical fertiliser or pesticides are used. When we changed from cows to goats this resulted in less animal manure, and created a need to find alternative fertiliser and nutrition for the soil.
The introduction of liquid fertiliser is one positive step in our strive to have enough fertiliser. We produce it on the farm using materials we have available, like goat poo, soil, ash, charcoal, fresh “greens” (nitrogen rich plants like comfrey) and water.
In general this year is a poor year for coffee in the area, so we expect less than last year when 532kg was sold, a record at FRED’S FARM.
In February this year, we began a trial using 3 different methods of cultivation on the coffee terraces; we were encouraged to start this by RAB (Rwandan agricultural board). We already see differences in the areas but will have to wait for another 6 months to draw some tentative conclusions.
The macadamia trees are well established and most of the oldest trees are now producing nuts. This year, instead of selling nuts, we gave them to the local plant nursery to propagate new trees. It is a long process to propagate and nurture a tree until it produces nuts. Altogether it takes approximately 7 years. We hope, in time, to encourage small farmers to have a tree on their farms as a cash crop.
The Competency Centre
The idea is to test different farming solutions on FRED’S FARM land, then offer knowledge and practical know-how to local farmers.
In February and March, 6 healthy kids were born!
The program of interbreeding the purebred milking goats from FRED’S FARM with the local goats started, but is on hold at present. This will restart as soon as the 4 new male kids on the farm are mature.
The goat milk at the farm is given to the most vulnerable families. The children are selected by the village leader. The mothers bring the children to the farm and are fed there.
Via the internet homepage, there is an increased interest from Rwandans and NGOs working in Rwanda asking to buy milking goats, to buy milk, to work on the farm and more. This is a really positive unexpected spin-off from our dairy goat initiative. We are able to direct buyers to Napthal, the man we bought our goats from. Until now we need all the goats and the milk we have. But it is very encouraging to see there is an interest:)
Moringa is a tree. Its leaves, seed pods and seeds have high nutritional value. We propagate these trees from seed on FRED’S FARM.
Pascasie, a former trainee from the local school, has been employed on FRED’S FARM since February. Her prime role is to look after the established moringa on the farm, plant seeds to supplement as required, and to spread knowledge through practical follow up in the local community. She has shown herself to be motivated and eager to learn, in addition to being dedicated to her work. She is also trusted in the TWA village.
Having Pascasie in the team has made an enormous improvement in the health of the moringa on the farm, and this will hopefully give the needed push to assist the local community including the school, to succeed in growing moringa.
Since restarting the microsavings after the COVID-19 pandemic, the villagers have saved approximately 800 norwegian kroner. With an individual savings deposit of 1 - 2 kroner, it shows they are dedicated to try to save.
Work continues to help the villagers to improve the quality of the soil in the tiny snippets of land between their houses. This in turn helps to produce food.
Production of their own liquid fertiliser has started, and looks very promising. Many of the villagers are engaged in this process.
Pascasie, our new moringa specialist, has a special responsibility to follow this up in the village.
Twa Children to School
All the TWA children from the village who attend the local school are supported by FRED'S FARM. Altogether there are 14 school children this year.
KIZI SCHOOL, the local school
Food at school
Moringa was planted again, and will in time, help provide food for lunch. It has been a challenge to get moringa established but this time we are hopeful.
The solar lamp library we started in 2019 continues to work well. It makes a big difference for the oldest pupils studying for their final exams. The school wishes to target this group. Almost all homes in the area don’t have electricity. So after sunset at 6pm all year round, it is DARK. These lamps have been very well used for 4 years, a few are now broken, a few missing and some have had their rechargeable batteries changed. In our agreement with the school, we take the responsibility to change batteries, fix broken lamps, and dispose of those which are not working as there are no facilities for recycling or waste disposal outside the capital. But in the past year, we see recycling stations for electrical items are slowly but surely being rolled out in Rwanda.
Internship on the farm
The intern program is continuing. This is a real success story! Three new interns, Nadine Uwizeyimana , Emmanuel Nshuti and Elias Uwitonze began at the end of April. In the course of their 12 week period at the farm, they take part in all the different work tasks, but have a special responsibility for looking after the Demonstration Plot.
Educational visits to farm
We are in contact with the local school to restart visits from school pupils. This initiative was stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Farmers claiming land
We are still working to solve the issue of 4 farmers laying claim to land on FRED’S FARM. Taking time to resolve this is part of the solution.
Pascasie Gatoyi joined our team on FRED’S FARM (FF) in February 2023. She is our moringa specialist!
Pascasie attended Kizi school, and was an intern on FF in 2021. She told us then the positive impact of being an intern; gaining skills for use on the family land and for her own future, being able to buy a young goat, being able to pay for her school materials and help her family buy essential food items. In addition, her goat gave her the hope of being independent of her parents. Pascasie finished school in 2022, and since then lived at home with her parents and siblings. Her daily routine was to help on and around the homestead and land cultivated by the family for survival.
Job possibilities for young people in the local community are minimal, even for those who have completed a primary and secondary education, like Pascasie. Jacques informs us that for many young women in Pascasie’s situation, prostitution is often the only way to get a small income. So, giving young women job opportunities on FRED’S FARM to gain skills, and at the same time, earn some money, is a priority.
THANK YOU to all who donate monthly, and to all who give now and again:) Your support makes a difference every single day! Without the donations these results would not be possible.
One of the children getting goat milk on the farm. THANK YOU
This is the start of the rainy season. The dirt and stone road up to the farm was “passable” but we were witness to hail and relentless torrential rain which cuts deep, steep gorges in the hillside road where the road clings onto. Deep holes are carved out in cultivated fields, new “rivers” and “waterfalls” appear in anticipated and unexpected places on the farm. Life-giving rain, but oh so much damage!
Overall, there are many positive trends especially regarding TWA and the internship program but as usual there are both set-backs and challenges.
Kids in general are looking healthier, and more have better clothing.
🙂 More cultivation in their village.
🙂 More kids will be given the opportunity to attend school.
🙂 Microsaving functions well.
More kids to school, increased in the past year from 750 to 915 pupils at Kizi.
🙂 Solar lamp library working well.
🙂 Internship programme continues to function very well.
🙁 Macadamia tree we planted at school died.
Dairy goats Interbreeding programme is functioning well.
🙂 New strategy to strengthen coffee cultivation, thanks to professional input.
🙂 Macadamia production increased and increasing as trees mature.
🙁 Since Fred’s death, 4 farmers claim ownership to land on FRED’S FARM.
🙁 2 bucks died; one on the farm and one at a farmer.
🙁 Coffee crop 2023 has not improved as hoped.
Our first visit to the TWA village is always coupled with a certain trepidation.. What will meet us this time round? What is the general atmosphere? Has the village become any greener? Do the kids look healthier/cleaner/better dressed?
This time positive changes were to be seen and felt. Meeting us was not the usual overwhelming flow of people, shouting, waving, pushing and shoving - it was friendly, warm and non-demanding. There are visible signs of improvement, slow, slow changes over the past 8 years. Yes, the villagers still live in extreme poverty, but most of the kids don’t look as sick as before. More children were washed and had better clothing. Small areas were being cultivated, with fruit and vegetables, and we saw several small compost heaps similar to those Jacques had taught how to make last year. And chickens running around, financed by the microfinance initiative we started. Two houses had also planted some flowers! It was really warming to see all these positive changes.
Treatment of “jiggers” (tungiasis)
Unfortunately, jiggers is still an issue. The main reason for this is that most families are still living in huts with earth floors. Everyone who needs treatment, is invited to come to the farm for treatment on a given date. Ten children met up, many had one or two parents and siblings on tow. But several came alone. Three of the eldest boys hid behind a tree close to where treatment was carried out, and Providence had to work hard to persuade them to come forward. Two local voluntary health care workers were invited to inspect and carry out treatment. These 2 dedicated people used hours to slowly but surely work their way along the line of patient, grateful children. Most of the children had jiggers on their feet, others also had on their hands. Each child received soap and sandals, as hygiene and protected feet are two important preventive measures. This time round the health care workers will follow up by visiting the families in their homes.
KIZI SCHOOL (local school)
Internship program for school children
This time we could really see the positive effects of the internship program; the impact for the individual students and their families, and the potential for FRED’S FARM activities.
Nine of the former interns attended a planting session for iron-enriched beans. They told us about the development of their small projects; Elias told us of how his piglet had now become a mature pig, piglets were sold and one of its first born was given to a needy neighbour. Each had their own story which they told with pride:)
Finding the right human resources to help us work towards our goal of reaching out to the farmers in the area has not been easy. Now we see some of the interns can be this resource. One of our former interns, Pascasie, has just joined our permanent staff, and will be trained as a “moringa specialist”. In addition, we are planning to choose another former intern to follow up the interbreeding goat program in the community. This is the initiative to improve the milk production of local goats.
We were witness to Pascasie starting her new job. She came “polished” in clean clothes, is well organised, exact in what and how she works, really motivated to learn and gets on well with others.
This time round we were made aware of the situation for many young women like Pascasie; finished school and with no job opportunities outside the home farm. Many are pushed into prostitution. So from now on, we plan to prioritise girls when employing former interns.
Sun powered lamp library at Kizi school
FRED’S FARM established the “lamp library” just before COVID in
2020 and it is still working as intended. We had a meeting
with the secretary at the school and went through his records.
The library started with 47 lamps, 6 are now missing and 3
are broken. We changed batteries in 6. There had been a change
in staff so we don’t know when the 6 lamps disappeared, but
reckon it was a “COVID problem”. The school principal and staff
are very happy with the initiative and acknowledge the need for lamps for the children. So we will continue supporting this and replace lamps which are lost and damaged. The secretary is aware
he must keep good records to track each individual lamp.
Kleins A/S Trondheim, Intersport Munkegate TRondheim and Strauss Group Israel, sponsored footballs and pumps for Kizi and Bwama schools. Thank you! Receiving new footballs is always a real highlight for the pupils, and the school leadership. The sports coach told us they are actively trying to promote and support girls' football. Currently Kizi school has 2 male and 2 female teams which compete in inter-school tournaments. He said these new balls mean they will be able to practice before matches with a real football!! Many play football barefoot - if anyone would like to support football boots next time we go to Rwanda, please let us know:)
THE SISTERS CLUB
The school has a small designated building at the school to provide space for girls who have their period. There's a bed with bedlinen for rest, a shower, a bidet and a toilet. There's no running water, but "the bucket system" is used. In addition there's a metal trunk with clean towels, clean underwear, clean reusable sanitary pads, and clean school uniform skirts. All of this is accessible for girls who need the facility.
The metal chest was almost empty so we bought some towels and underwear. Here they learn about conception and contraception, about sexuality, about being master of their own bodies. The girls also learn how to sew their own sanitary pads.
Hanne got a crash course in how to make these, and one very wet day on the farm, all girl workers who wanted could join a sewing session. None had used scissors before and most had never sewn, but all were eager:) All necessary materials and equipment is now available at the farm, so on rainy days or midday break, those who will can make these.
The dairy goats
Apart from a few incidents recently with our bucks (male goats), the goats are doing very well.
(Four goats have just given birth to four kids altogether, 3 male and 1 female. In addition 2 are pregnant. . )
Both bucks lent to farmers in the local community to provide an interbreeding service are “lost”; one farmer sold the buck, and the other buck died after eating poisonous leaves. Goats unfortunately goats don’t have an “in-house” red lamp to tell them when a foodstuff is poisonous, and cassava, a commonly grown food stables for humans, has poisonous leaves. The farmer who sold FRED’S FARM goat has been reprimanded by the village leader and “sentenced” to either give FF cash or a local goat. Apart from these set-backs, the interbreeding program with local goats in the neighbouthood is working well, 2 kids are born and 4 does are pregnant. All are healthy. The district vet and the village leader have set criteria for which farmers get the free "service" of the dairy goat buck; the female, must be healthy and big enough (at least 14kg), the farmer must have enough high quality forage available, the farmer must have a shelter for the goat, and he/she must be honest.
The buck on the farm died while we were there. The vet examined it but could not find the cause.
Thankfully there are many healthy pregnant goats on the farm, and just after our return home to Norway, 4 does gave birth producing 3 male and one female:) These 3 young males can in a few months be part of the interbreeding programme in the community, but we will have to buy a new buck for the farm.
To find another way to better follow up the interbreeding programme in the community, we are looking into the possibility of employing one of our former interns.
Cultivation on FRED’S FARM
Approximately 40% of all the land on FRED’S FARM is cultivated by local farmers and TWA. Those with little or no land for cultivation can ask for permission to grow. Each farmer gets access to land for one calendar year, 2 seasons. TWA have access to land all the times as they have no land themself for cultivation.
Moringa, “the miracle tree”, management
After many years of trial and error, and much reading, we have at last cracked the code
to consistently succeed in growing moringa!
So armed with this knowledge and with Pascasie, our new employee, to closely follow up the moringa, we should
be able to have a good demonstration area on the farm,
and gradually be able to introduce at the school, the
Twa village and to other interested farmers
in the area.
Support from Israel
A relative from Israel (his father was from Trondheim) joined us for a week to support the project. Opher has a PhD, working in the field of sustainable agriculture in developing countries. He’s a practical academic, with much experience in several countries on the African continent, including Rwanda. Opher provided us with lots of practical input, including setting up a more robust trial with beans on Demo Plot. His presence and input was a real boost for us all, but especially Jacques.
In addition his academic position paved the way to improve our cooperation with RAB ( Rwanda Agriculture Board ). Thanks to Opher we spent half a day at the national coffee research station where we learnt, and received plants and seeds! Opher is eager to continue to support FRED’S FARM! So he will be back. GREAT!
In addition, Tami, a colleague of Opher, joined us for some days. Tami’s a social worker who works occasionally in Rwanda. She too provided us with valuable social input, and practical help:)
A big thank you to both of them!!
Over time we have questioned our method of growing coffee - it must be possible to grow coffee in a more efficient and more earth- friendly way. At RAB, we witnessed first hand what “cutting-edge” methods are
being used in the Rwandan setting to produce coffee. They
are experimenting with different forms of “conservation agriculture” systems, but all are following the principles
of minimal soil disturbance (no till), permanent organic
cover and species diversification. Jacques has bought into
this idea, and we have already started implementing these new methods on the farm. This is very exciting!
This year's coffee crop does not look as promising as last years. One reason is the weather; the dry season was 3 weeks longer than average. In addition there have been vicious rain and hail storms, damaging flowers, trees, soil and run off of nutrients. But despite the toll of harsh weather, many more trees are looking healthy and robust, so there is hope for the coming years. Also our new methods of tending coffee will in time help reduce the impact of the negative weather factors.
Looking after the coffee
Yes, we are producing more nuts but we also have got some small friends in our storage area who have acquired a taste for these delicious nuts. The drying and storage method is now improved, and these little rascals can't cause harm! The macadamia trees are exceptionally healthy, are maturing and starting to produce more nuts. So this year there will be more nuts for sale:
Team work with Jacques, Tami and Opher making new safe drying/storage for the macadamia nuts
The demonstration plot
The perimeter trees, fruit, shade and fodder, and grasses are becoming well established. The moringa planted last year didn’t survive.
Our intention in the demo plot is to grow nutritionally rich food, in a way which best utilises the available space. Opher guided the interns to start a new trial with iron-enriched beans to see how best to plant them to get the highest yield.
Opher explaining how to plant the beans
Beehives and bees
To promote better pollination, new beehives will soon be constructed by one of our present interns.
Tomas, Ole, Kenneth and Toni, four 19 year olds from Trondheim, visited the farm for a day. They joined the workforce to plant grasses on the coffee terraces, had a guided tour of the farm and then asked if they could play a football match at the local school:) The sports coach invited one of the girls teams to challenge them - a tough match for both teams!!
The boys joined the workforce for some hours, Thanks!
COFFEE for SALE
Forty five kilos of green coffee filled our suitcases on return from Rwanda. The coffee will be roasted on Saturday 18.02. at Cafe Le Frere, Søndre gt. by the owner Kjell Harry Lyngaas. This is one of the ways Kjell Harry supports the project. Many thanks!!
We'll send and email once the coffee is ready for sale.
To each and every one who either supports FRED’S FARM every single month, or who gives a donation now and again. Thank you for making all of these changes possible:)
Hanne and Sten
Rwanda is returning to a new normality after COVID, and at present no restrictions are in place.
For the project, we are adjusting to the reality of Fred's passing, and Jacques has risen to the challenge of having total responsibility on site.
The general price rise in Rwanda is being felt by everyone, and for the project, we will notice increased wages and general cost of goods.
WORK ON THE FARM
The dry season lasted from mid May til mid September. No rain fell in this period, and there is less activity on the farm. The most important task is to keep plants alive. No rain means no growth, so no weeding and nothing is planted. This year the interns made more robust shade constructions to protect the young, vulnerable moringa trees and were more attentive to apply mulching. This resulted in a higher survival rate. The coffee seedlings planted in February struggled and many died despite regular watering.
A worm tea bed is constructed on the farm. This is a composting system where "run -off" liquid (worm tea) is collected. On the farm the worm tea is used primarily on the coffee and macadamia as a pesticide and to strengthen. This worm tea bed will be used as a demonstration site for local farmers. Our aim is that farmers will collaborate to build a worm tea bed together. ( Picture below)
Fences are constructed around many macadamia trees. Farmers with little or no land are invited to plant crops between the macadamia but it has been a challenge to control exactly where crops are planted. Now the fences define where the root system is and prevent planting too close. (Picture below)
Compost heaps: altogether 25 large compost heaps are made on the coffee terraces. This is one of the ways we improve our soil quality as we have less manure from animals. (Picture below)
Maintenance; repairing the cement base around the homestead building, roof repair, fences, etc. Torrential rain and high winds leave their toll! (Pictures below)
The interns come as usual to the farm through the dry season. Their prime job is shading, renewal of mulching and watering. Yet another "trio" have successfully completed their 3 month internship period! We are so proud of Jacques who so diligently follows up and motivates these young students, making an immediate and lasting impact on their own and their families lives. (Pictures below - Certificate and harvesting peanuts (food for workers)
The microsavings capital provided in February has grown by an amazing 50%! Beans were bought at harvest time, stored and resold later in the season for profit. A truly successful business initiative:)
Cooking stoves: many have now built in their homes, not exactly like the prototype... but at least they're less of a hazard for children than a bonfire, and hopefully use less firewood. FRED'S FARM provided bricks, and a day's salary for each person who built one.
(Pictures below of two of the stoves)
Compost made in February was shared between all who helped make it. The villagers were able to grow beans and maize. In early September, 30 villagers met to make a new compost heap under JAcques and Providence's guidance. FRED'S FARM buys lime and pays for a day's work. There is a dire need to improve the soil quality in the tiny areas around the houses in the TWA village to make it possible to grow some food. (Picture below)
The last cows on FRED'S FARM were sold early September. This is the end of an era. We would like to thank all sponsors who have specifically supported the cow programme through the years. This programme lifted many, many families providing milk, income and knowledge.
Since 2018 we have been working towards a more sustainable way to provide milk through introducing dairy goats.
FRED'S FARM has lent a dairy goat buck to the village leader, Innocent, and an interbreeding programme with local goats is now in place. Jacques supports Innocent in his efforts to promote the programme in the community. So far 7 farmers have brought their female goats for servicing. This is a real milestone! (Picture below)
This is the season of high activity - to maintain, improve and develop the farm. This is the weather window to plant for short and long term; seasonal crops and trees which take 5 - 10 years to reach maturity. This is also the season for the farmers we invite to grow crops on FRED'S FARM to start their planting. This is the main crop of the year, the one which provides food for the family and the hope of some extra which they can sell for much needed cash for small essentials like salt, soap, in addition to school uniforms, paper and pencils for their children.
Jacques has prepared well and has both seeds, saplings, tools and more manpower ready to start. He is in contact with the school principal to prepare for planting moringa seeds at the school to provide more food in the future for school lunches.
THANK YOU to all who donate monthly, and to all who give now and again:) Your support makes a difference every single day!
Support the project. Use the Support button below😀
Back home after 3 demanding but fruitful weeks. Being present in person is a time for getting an overview of the status of the land, the staff, the animals, relations with others and more. It’s a time for decision making, for finding alternative ways to do things, to scrap “good ideas” and being open for “new ideas”. And prioritising. But perhaps most important of all, it’s a time to open our eyes and ears to the realities of the area we are guests.
The COVID situasjonen in Rwanda was “under control” and didn’t limit our work; organised test and self-isolation regimes and facemask use in public spaces. Rwanda reports the highest vaccination rate in Africa with over 60 % fully vaccinated. During our visit we had a meeting with the socio-economic development officer (SEDO) in the area. This area is one of the poorest in the country. After our meeting he went on his way to encourage people in “his” area to get their COVID vaccine, booster dose! An example of a just system!
We spent more time with the TWA, and felt a very positive change - it was easier to present new initiatives and more people were interested in taking part in “activities”. COVID was a very difficult time for them, many with limited or no access to food. Our farm foreman, Providence, told us many have realised the need to be able to support themselves in a different way than before i.e. they cannot just survive from day to day.
Collaboration with the school has also improved. The new school principal is forward thinking. He actively promotes helping his most vulnerable pupils and sees how FRED’S FARM is a tool to do this. The potential in the school garden, used for providing food for the school lunch, has been developed.
Experience has shown us that meeting “officials” can be challenging; time schedules, weather and changes in priorities. This time round, better planning and persistence gave results - we got to meet the “SEDO”, the district vet and the district agronomist. These people give us a good insight into government policies and how they affect the people in the area we work. In addition, together we are able to find better solutions to different challenges.
In general we can report many positive trends in the project 😀
Picture: The staff and day workers one day at the farm
Internship program for school children
This initiative started last year and functions as we hoped. All 12 students, past and present, were invited to the farm one Saturday. They told us about what they had learnt during their internship, and about their "business project" which the project has supported. Each described the short- and long term benefit for themselves and their families.
It was really heartwarming to hear how these young people are planning for their future by participating in savings schemes at the school and in their local community, by buying, rearing and selling animals, by planting fruit trees which will provide a cash crop in the future and making improvements on their home plot. The school principal also reinforced everything the pupils told us.
Picture: Interns transplanting moringa seedlings
Microsavings for TWA
The microsavings programme collapsed during COVID when, in despair, the TWA were forced to use the money to buy food. Twenty seven families now came forward to participate in the programme, 15 more families than before. We have provided new start capital. We encourage to save to enable more children to attend school. At the end of this year, we have committed to pay half of what it costs to send a child to school when the savings group pays the other half. In addition, short term loans are given to start small businesses, to buy essentials like salt or soap, medical treatment and more. Interest is paid on the loan. The group itself administers the programme. Pre-COVID this programme functioned well.
Picture: The newly selected committee for the Microsavings account.
Treatment of tungiasis, “jiggers”
Sixteen children from the TWA village were treated for jiggers. This was the first time we were witness to this painful condition. A small parasite enters the skin especially on the foot (between toes and beside the nails) causing local inflammation and sometimes infection. The school doesn’t permit children with this condition to attend school.
Picture: Treatment of jiggers
Sun powered lamps
The “lamp library” of sun powered lamps we supplied to the local school works well for both pupils and staff. The school secretary follows up, and no lamp has been lost so far. The lamps have been used extensively. Five of the 47 lamps are taken back to Norway for servicing.
The dairy goats are healthy and after 3 long years, we were in the position to start the interbreeding programme with local goats. This was initiated while we were there!!
FRED’S FARM now produces enough food for our goats:)
Picture: Happy goats running home after grazing on the farm
Cultivation on FRED’S FARM
Approximately 40% of all the land on FRED’S FARM is cultivated by local farmers and TWA. Those with little or no land for cultivation can ask for permission to grow. Each farmer gets access to land for one calendar year, 2 seasons.
The TWA have access to land all the time as they have no land for cultivation. It was wonderful to see first hand that the TWA now cultivate a much larger area than before, and it's better cared for. Jacques ensures the area provided has good soil as the TWA have no access to animal dung.
After much trial and error, we have learnt that it is a demanding process to germinate moringa seeds and to ensure they survive their first few years. They are very sensitive to too much rain and too much sun, and when transplanting seedlings, the slightest damage to their roots leads to the plant dying. Two terraces are now established “moringa terraces” with 2 different methods of planting. In addition moringa seeds were planted while we were present on the Demonstration plot.
The local population now have a genuine interest in moringa, and are eager to try to grow them. In addition, the district agronomist and the district vet asked for seeds. Moringa seeds will be propagated at the school garden in the coming weeks.
Picture: Moringa flowering on the farm
Food for field workers on FRED’S FARM
More food is being produced so we can provide “something” to eat at the midday break; avocado, papaya, tree tomato, banana, peanuts and more. The fruit trees planted in the past 4 years are slowly but surely reaching maturity and bearing fruit.
The demonstration plot
The interns have established a demonstration plot. The perimeter has fruit trees, shade trees and napier grass (animal fodder). Moringa is planted along paths. Various vegetables are planted; eggplant, sweet potato, peanuts, maize and beans. Also lemongrass. In addition we planted a trial area with new iron-enriched beans using 2 different methods; one method requires much less wood to stake i.e. less work and more sustainable in a land with limited wood resources.
Picture: Overview over the demonstration plot
Coffee and Macadamia
The coffee harvest this year is looking promising. Never before have so many bushes produced so many coffee cherries. Improved management and hard work are giving results!
The eldest macadamia trees planted approx 6 years ago, are now reaching maturity and have started to produce nuts. The youngest trees planted 2 years ago are very healthy.
Picture: One ripe red coffee cherry and many unripe green.
Picture: Macadamia nuts
It was a real disappointment to acknowledge the reality that all of the bamboo plants which were planted along small streams leading to the main river in the valley had been removed by farmers who cultivate along these streams. The district agronomist was ashamed of this act of “sabotage”. The reality is that the farmers see bamboo as a threat to their crops. So despite the fact that the local authorities gave us access to plant, farmers have attended meetings with Jacques and local leaders, the farmers themselves were employed by us to plant and weed, and our intention was to try to find business opportunities with bamboo, nevertheless the immediate need for food left the farmers uprooting the bamboo.
All of the bamboo planted along the main river are alive and well. In this area the government has a follow up system. In relation to soil erosion, this is the most critical area.
So now, we will plant some more bamboo in an area along a few small streams very close to FRED’S FARM. In this area Jacques has a good dialogue with the farmers. To plant on a larger scale for commercial purposes at this time will not be followed up.
Over the past 3 years we have planted and transplanted lemongrass around the homestead. It thrives. This time round, we dried it and also did a trial to infuse oil. The dried leaves can be used as a herbal infusion and the oil can be used as flavouring. Both are back in Norway and for sale, income goes directly to FRED’S FARM.
Picture: Infusing oil with lemongrass
New cooking stove
A prototype brick and clay stove was made at the farm. This uses 75% less firewood than traditional “3 stone” open fire, has markedly less smoke thanks to a very small fire chamber and is less of a fire hazard for children. Eight TWA ladies brought clay to make the stove, and participated in constructing it. Afterwards, Alice, the village leader built one in her own home and several others planned to make one.
Picture: Bosco very happy with the new stove
Picture: The TWA ladies helped with their knowledge to build the first stove
Compost at the TWA village
The TWA have maximum 2 metres of land around their homes. In general, the soil is hard packed and non-productive. To improve their soil, our agronomist, Jacques, invited the TWA to a training session at their village on how to make a compost heap. Everyone who wanted to take part could come - a strong motivation is that all who participate get a day’s salary. But in reality, every single person who came was active and interested.
As we approached the TWA village that afternoon, we saw black clouds approaching and heard thunder in the distance. The villagers had already chosen a centrally placed site for the compost heap, all the ingredients for the heap were gathered, and all 27 people stood ready for action with 4 machetes and 1 hoe. As the thunder and lightning grew closer, the tempo increased - never has a compost heap been constructed so fast! By the time the torrential rain arrived, and the thunder crashed around us, the job was complete. These short 20 minutes are a decisive step towards a hope of slightly more food production on the scraps of land at the TWA village.
Picture: Everyone helping to build the compost
Beehives and bees
Once the rain passed and the sun broke through, the bees from our beehives made their presence felt. A “buzz” was ever-present:) When built originally, the beehives were in an area away from human activity, but now the demonstration plot is close by. So beekeeper Alexander is looking for a new position for the hives, and the plan is to move them when the time is right:)
Pictures: Bosco and Daniel were very grateful for their new "wardrobe".
Picture: We met 3 of the 6 TWA kids we support at the school.
The children from the TWA village attend Bwama primary school. We've never visited there before. As we entered the school compound the rain was bucketing down and thunder was in the air. Dozens of children "flowed" around us, called "good morning, what is your name?", climbed into the window openings to get a better look at "mazunga" (white man) and, for the brave ones, tried to get close enough to touch our white skin with a tentative finger tip! Emmanuel, Fabrice and Divine from the TWA village have met us before, so they were happy to escape into the staff room to talk to us. They told us how they like going to school, all do well in their class and they like different things (maths, reading, football). On this visit we learnt that school lunch at this school is not free for the most vulnerable. So none of the TWA children had paid for school lunch, and hence got no lunch. From now on, the sum for lunch will be included in our support to each child.
Picture: We are helping to improve the school lunch supply. Here planting a macadamia tree.
Coffee for sale
35kg of green coffee returned with us from Rwanda. This time all the coffee is natural processed coffee instead of washed coffee. This gives a more complex flavour. Today the coffee was roasted at Cafe Le Frere, Søndre gt. by the owner Kjell Harry Lyngaas. He does this to support the project. Thanks !!
A mail will be sent out once the coffee is bagged and ready for sale.
Hanne and Sten
Summary of 2021 and plans for 2022
The year was marked by COVID-19 but we managed to keep all basic activities up and running. Arne Ivar from Trondheim was on a day visit to the farm in September. Otherwise, no visits from Norway.
The main consequences of COVID-19 on our activities:
Some statistics 2021
Twa's beans planted on the Farm Work on the Farm
We managed to balance income and the cost of our activities well in 2021. Due to COVID-19 only a small quantity coffee was available for sale in Norway, so income was primarily from donations. We prioritized providing work for as many as possible to give some income, initiating work like bamboo planting instead of giving more emergency food.
See annual report and annual account under Organisation tab for more information.
MORE DETAILS for 2022
In 2022 we are prepared for the uncertainty and restrictions COVID-19 imposes in Rwanda.
“Start-up package”: we have an overall idea to offer local farmers a “start-up package” with animals and plants which are optimal in relation to available land, resources and nutrition.
Support the school/more children to school
Cash crops: coffee and macadamia
To look after coffee plants and macadamia trees is labour intensive, so FRED’S FARM provides work for many. In the future the income from these cash crops will give income to FRED’s FARM project and cover most of the running cost. We are continually looking for better methods to care for these crops.
The bamboo planted last year to stop erosion of farming land in the river valley bordering to FRED'S FARM. These plants require follow-up over the coming year to establish a strong bamboo belt along the river. Once big enough, bamboo can be used as a building material for the farm and we will look into the feasibility of establishing a small bamboo workshop.
Picture- The six Twa children supportet by the project in their new uniforms, January 2022.
Thank you again for all the support to the project 😀
You can read about the project in SKJETLEIN school paper from december 2021
😃 Coffee trees look promising with lots of blossom.
😃 We are ready to start the interbreeding program with the dairy goats.
☹ Water supply was broken for 5 weeks in dry season.
☹ School still closed so no activity.
The DRY SEASON
The dry season, with no rain since May, is drawing to a close. During this period, for 5 weeks the farm has been without a running water supply. It was a challenge to source the problem and get it fixed. Our water tanks helped us for 2 weeks, but then we had to find new solutions to ensure our many seedlings and young plants survived. For 2 weeks we employed 5 people from the Twa village to help to collect water from the river approx. 2 km from the farm. In addition, our interns made innovative shade constructions to protect the young trees in the demo plot, see pictures below
Goal - to introduce schoolchildren to sustainable farming.
After very positive feedback from the first 3 interns, the school principal and our agriculturalist, Jacques, we've decided to continue to develop our internship program. Three new interns began in July; Elie Mutabazi, Janvier Niyomugabo and Pascasie Gatoyi. At this time of the year, their prime tasks are to assist and learn from harvesting moringa, pruning coffee and macadamia trees, worm tea application, and watering, watering and watering the 100s of needy plants!
We plan to initiate a program where the pupils who successfully complete the internship program on FRED'S FARM, train farmers how to cultivate moringa. This gives the pupils an opportunity to put into practice what they've learnt and earn some income.
Goal -to introduce a more sustainable form of milk production than cows.
We are now ready to start the process of interbreeding between one of our dairy goat bucks and local goats. This will be organised with the help of the local vet. All our goats have identity tags now, and written records are in place, so we are able to track the interbreeding process.
Altogether we now have 15 healthy dairy goats. Every day, milk is provided to the most needy in the area.
We have 3 mature males, but need only two; one to service our own females, and one to service the local goats. Our plan was to sell the third, and interested buyers had contacted us. But due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, this was not possible. So now we have lent one buck to a local farmer. The vet chose this farmer as he has forage and is interested in our trials to interbreed with local goats. With the vet's help, he too will try this.
Goal - to introduce moringa as a sustainable food source.
NOW we're ready to roll out a large scale "moringa campaign"! Top priority is planting at the Twa village, the school and to hundreds of local farmers. The pupils from the internship program will help us implement a training program for those who get the moringa plants.
The local leaders and school principal are eager to plant moringa around a large area close to the school. This area is used as a "football pitch", playing field, and a meeting place for the locals.
Seeds will be planted in the coming weeks once the rain starts. Some moringa tree seedlings on the farm died during the dry season but most are thriving. Leaves were harvested just before the dry season and people from the Twa village were invited to taste to get to know moringa.
DEMONSTRATION (DEMO) PLOT
Goal - to demonstrate how a small farm plot can be utilized for maksimum food yield, and least work, throughout the year.
The perimeter of the demo plot has now been established with approx. 100 tree seedlings; shade trees, fruit trees and moringa with napier grass planted in between. The interns have worked hard to keep these alive through the dry season by trying to provide shade, and by watering. Plans for more planting in the upcoming rainy season are made!
COFFEE and MACADEMIA
Goal - to create income for the FRED'S FARM to make it financial independent.
Next coffee season looks as though there'll be a considerably higher yield then before. The blossoming trees give us a good indication of this. The dry season is the season for pruning, so all our trees are pruned, and worm tea applied.
Goal - to empower and support Twa to be part of local society including children attending school.
The people in the TWA village are struggling due to COVID-19 restrictions, with no possibility to move to get work. But they've been permitted to gather mulching materials, and water for the farm, providing some income.
The present situation has highlighted the importance of prioritising making it possible for the Twa people to produce more food for themselves. This is planned for rainy season.
Goal - to support the school so the children get a better start in life.
There has been no activity due to COVID-19 restrictions. We will follow up of the moringa trees planted for food for schoolchildren and the lamp project when the school reopens.
COVID-19 restrictions continues to mark the community. The school was closed again at the end of July. Reopening is planned in October. Movement of people outside of their closest surroundings has not been permitted for the past months, but agriculture is a priority, so work at the farm is permitted. Hence we have tried to provide extra employment in this period; in addition to farming activities, we have carried out maintenance work and made improvements.
Arne Ivar is the first to travel to Rwanda since the outbreak of COVID-19. He will visit the farm, school and the TWA village and give us an updated status. He will also bring home some green coffee for roasting here. There will only be 30 kg so if you are interested to buy, contact us!
We have bought 10 T-shirts with FRED'S FARM logo to use when activities are carried out outside the farm, for example when the interns teach how to plant and follow up the moringa trees.
Do you want to sponsor 1 or more T-shirts. One T-shirt costs NOK160.
VIPPS (only Norway): 98539 and write T-shirt 😀
Thank's again to all of you who support the project. Without your contribution we could not continue our work.
MORE CHILDREN TO SCHOOL
In the past months more people now give monthly to the project, and we are especially grateful for this! But to have a predictable economy, we do need more. So we hope there are some more of you who will consider this:)
Bank account number: 4212 24 53957
IBAN: NO58 4212 24 53957 BIC/SWIFT: SPTRN022
Bank name: SpareBank 1 SMN, Postbox 4796 Torgarden, 7467 Trondheim, Norway
VIPPS (Only Norway): 98539
Update June 2021
+ The first Internship programme for 3 school pupils is completed.
+ Farmer training for 193 farmers is completed.
+ Goats, 3 new kids, and 14 litres of milk pr week to the most needy.
- Very poor coffee yield this season.
- Water supply was broken for 3 weeks.
The first 3 pupils from Kizi school have now successfully completed a 12 week internship programme on FRED'S FARM. Health insurance for 2021 was paid for all three. The small payment the pupils received pr week as a motivation to take part, left them able to buy school meals, exercise books and pens for school and clothes. With the final "savings" payment, all three bought animals which they plan as a "business" to help support their families. Marie Rose has bought a piglet, Emmanuel 2 hens and Evariste a goat.
Each pupil wrote a final report of 11 pages where they describe all the activities they participated in, and what they learnt which can be useful in their home setting.
These pupils come from the poorest families in the area - our aim is that their new knowledge will help lift the whole family and come a step closer to self-sufficiency.
The school principal and teachers have given us very positive feedback about the programme. Jacques has been motivated by the pupils' enthusiasm, their desire to do practical work and learn. Jacques has noticed the pupils become very tired, and suggests we reduce the number of days the pupils attend from 6 to 3.
We plan for a new group of pupils to start their internship programme on 03. July after exams are finished.
This activity is outside our budget - will you help support?
Total cost for one pupil for 12 weeks is approx. kr.450.
193 farmers participated over a 5 week period from mid April to mid May in a training day on FRED'S FARM. Jacques led the training session about making compost heaps without use of animal dung. Most of these small farmers do not own animals, and use "Yara" nitrogen fertilizer. All grow coffee on a very small scale. Gaining knowledge about alternatives to chemical fertilizer, giving them the possibility to aim for an organically grown coffee crop, something which gives higher sales prices. Several of these farmers have already started making compost heaps on their own property.
This is part of our program to give the farmers better knowledge in more sustainable farming methods.
3 new healthy kids have been born, providing more milk for yet another vulnerable family. Altogether there are now 16 dairy goats on FRED'S FARM. After more than a year of "trying", identity tags for the goats are now in place - all our goats have ID tags in their ears. This is another step towards putting in place a breeding programme with the local goats, which we hope know to start implementing in the autumn.
By breeding our dairy goats with the local goats, the aim is to provide goat milk for the local population. Goats require less land and less food to produce one liter milk.
The coffee harvest is finished, and it was the worst ever! After 4 years of intense work on the coffee, we must accept that most of the coffee bushes damaged by hail several years ago, have not recovered. So all the non- or little productive bushes are being removed, and in the next rainy season, September/October, we will replant.
Coffee is one of 2 cash crops on FRED'S FARM which in the future will provide income to run the project.
In May, the water pipe supplying FRED'S FARM was damaged in the village close to the farm. Three long weeks at the beginning of the dry season without access to fresh water is a long time. Our water tanks ensured there was more than enough for the animals, but watering plants wasn't carried out as we didn't know how long it would take to get the pipe fixed.
13 moringa tree saplings died, as did some newly planted napier grass (forage for animals).
Last week the pipes were fixed and the tanks filled - now we're ready to face the dry season!
Food for our staff
Food production on the farm for our staff has increased; peanuts, avocados and beans have been grown and shared with the Twa (pygmy population who live close to the farm). Fruit is ripening and will be ready for harvesting at the end of the dry season; bananas, papaya, tree tomatoes and passion fruit. Moringa trees are maturing and leaves provide nourishment.
We aim to provide some daily nourishment to our staff.
Movement between different areas in Rwanda has been prohibited from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 until the beginning of June 2021. For those who survive by doing day labour, it has meant little work, and little food. We have tried to maintain some jobs on the farm. For FRED'S FARM, this has made sale of the cows impossible and access to the veterinary surgeon has been limited.
In addition, nobody from the support team in Norway has been in Rwanda, so we have had no coffee for sale to support the project.
THANK YOU to all who have supported FRED'S FARM in this period.
Our basic activities have continued, and our extra activities have provided much needed employment to many living in extreme poverty.
We are especially grateful to those who give every month, providing a more predicable economy.
We do hope that some of you who read this will consider this option:)
At the moment we need another kr 2500 /month to cover our monthly cost !!
Bank account number: 4212 24 53957
IBAN: NO58 4212 24 53957
Bank name: SpareBank 1 SMN, Postbox 4796 Torgarden, 7467 Trondheim, Norway