What we’re hearing about the reactions of the farmers now being trained in Uganda echoes the feedback we received from the team conducting the first permEzone training in Kenya - the farmers are excited as they start getting to grips with the design concepts and principles of regenerative agriculture, but at the same time they are surprised and frustrated that they didn’t already have access to this knowledge.
As Senyondo, one of the lead farmers in Sanje put it:
“I cannot believe that I have been lost for so long and so many of our fellow farmers are still lost, far from the reality of being creative.”
The images in this slideshow illustrate their journey so far, from completing the baseline survey, co-designing the curriculum, and introducing permaculture principles, through to practical demonstrations hosted on the farmers' own farms...
See below for a more detailed training report with the farmers in Sanje from the team at BEU.
Charles also had the remarkable opportunity to address the East African Parliament Legislative Assembly in Zanzibar. Co-presenting with Franko Gohse Head of Fumba Town Service Center - FTSC - Zanzibar, they called for the EAL's - Agriculture Committee to take action towards advancing Permaculture scalability in schools and member states. This is an open door to greater opportunities for youth in East Africa, especially schools!
NEWS FROM ASUMBI, KENYA
Better yet, a new staff member has joined the implementing organization Community Mobilization for Regenerative Agriculture (C-MRA), Stephen Onyango, has relocated to the area and has begun assisting the farmers to establish their model farms. Stephen will also be responsible for recruiting more farmers into the program, capturing field data, and fast tracking and guiding the peer-to-peer extension work.
Stephen has a diploma in agriculture from Rongo University and has also worked at Development in Gardening (DIG) carrying out field surveys on an Agri-nutrition project. Welcome, Stephen!
We learned that in future projects, there is a need to include a segment in the permEzone training programme on Organizational Development, to ensure the sustainability of the farmer groups. Topics covered could include: situation and needs analysis, group leadership and management, communication and conflict resolution, marketing and financing.
TRAINING REPORT FROM BEU
Already the group is highly engaged and proactive. They have even met together on their own to establish the training schedule and to strategize how to assist the elderly farmers with the heavy labor tasks on their farms.
You can read some of the highlights of the training after this testimony from Samula Augustine.
“Now that I have learned about the principle of observation and interact, I want to go back on my farm to examine my soil and be able to know which soils need fertilizers and those that don’t. I also learned how to dig waste pits which helps to make my own compost to add to soils that aren’t fertile. I want to be able to use a small piece of land and harvest more on my farm with the knowledge of Permaculture.
Imparting the importance of record keeping to establish a baseline and measure results was the first step. All agreed that this helped clarify their goals and gave them a sense of control.
The lead farmers appreciated the need for the records noting that it will be a key tool for them to track progress. The data sets will also help to evaluate the farmers quantitatively. With farm records showing yield before using permaculture principles and yield after applying the principles, this data gives the lead farmers an excellent tool to recruit other farmers to adopt permaculture.
Introduction to Permaculture
The farmers had an elaborate session on the background of permaculture and the integration between modern and traditional methods and the 12 permaculture principles.
Training On Site
Farmers gave clear concern on their previous lack of attention to the details of nature and its ecological feedback realizing that they have been living unaware of the knowledge all around them all this time.
Permaculture Principles in Action
Farmers learned by doing with structured activities that demonstrated the Permaculture Principles.
Observe & Interact- looking at multiple soil samples from around each farmer’s land, they learned how to test for water retention as this is a marker of soil fertility. They then learned about how to amend the soil using manure and making compost.
Catch & Store Energy - Looking at how to utilize the resources around us such as water, sunshine, people, money, information and seeing these as forms of energy. One of the examples was how to tap water from the roofs in the home, running water in the compound.
The farmer should be in position to understand their environment in order to catch all the forms of energy around them and utilize them for their benefit.
No Waste - Farmers made clay pot cooking stoves which produce no smoke, use less wood and also are environmental friendly. The farmers were taught on how they can construct these stoves in their homes and also do the same for their community members. The stove uses clay pots encased in clay soil which emit heat from the fuel for cooking.
Recycling natural resources - The farmers were taught how to use existing resources to grow more crops such as vegetables. Banana stems store a lot of water and it loses this water slowly over 6 months, making this an excellent place to start crops.
Some more comments from farmers during the training:
“I believe we have to prove to others by doing what we are learning and all what we can do is take action now.” John Bosco
“I cannot believe that there is always an opportunity to learn things around me even when I am 50 years old; the best thing that has happened is learning permaculture.” Sentale Simon