March 28, 2011

Alain & Matt Farming in Mogabiri

Mogabiri is home to the Mogabiri Farm Extension Centre, an organization run by the Anglican Church, devoted to improving the farming practices of local farmers and increasing their livelihoods through farming.  Alain and Matt have been working here and we spent two nights at Mogabiri, staying in the center’s dormitory complex.

The center is located on the edge of the escarpment and one can view the entire valley from the property… amazing.  The higher elevation creates a cooler climate (ahhhhh!), and this combined with fertile soils provides an agricultural haven for banana trees, coffee, cassava, corn, and other crops.  Matt has been working at the extension center helping take care of the dairy cows, which involves daily milking and cutting and preparing their forage, a mix of “elephant grass” and corn stalks/leaves.   He works with one of the farm employees named Richard (the one with the big smile!).  Matt’s project has been to research how beekeeping can improve farmer’s livelihoods.  He worked with a local woodworker in town to build his own hives, which will eventually be used at the center.  He is also researching the economic benefits of beekeeping, through interviews with local farmers who bring their honey to the center, where the honey is processed and sold as part of a beekeeping association.

Alain has been working in the office at the center doing various computer-related projects.  He helped train employees on the use of power-point, has helped type documents, and has worked on writing a number of reports. Alain also has helped with the farm chores around the farm, in addition to helping take care of the chickens, which his host brother is raising at their home. For his project, Alain is working to better understand the process of artisanal gold mining, which occurs on the cliffs near the farm.  He has visited several mines near the farm, is interviewing the miners, and tracing the mining material from the mine to the market.

Matt lives with the director of the Farm Extension Centre, Goodluck Kimaro and his family.  We ate our meals in the extension center cafeteria and enjoyed lively conversation with Goodluck and Gabriel, the center’s animal veterinarian.  The center is equipped to host visiting students and farmers with an extensive array of dormitories and classrooms.  Alain is living with Ruth Adul and her son.  Ruth directs a microfinance program for women (AFREDA), which has its offices at the center.  Alain and Matt have enjoyed their families, the community at the center (i.e. the morning prayers at the center each day), and the natural beauty of life in Mogabiri!

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