Farming with ropes, sticks and bottle caps

February 3, 2015

Our main goal while in Togo is to train our strategic partner, Jesse Shanks, on the basic practices of conservation agriculture. For the next six months, we will be piloting a program to test results of this farming method. If the results are positive, we will engage in a longer commitment.

The first morning of work consisted of pulling back mulch, which had covered the ground for the last year, and checking the dirt for rocks and foreign objects. The area was then measured and roped off using sticks to mark the location of the rows for the corn and another perpendicular rope with crimped bottle caps locating the planting locations.

This video shows David Reeves, Jesse Shanks and Peter Mueller working alongside a local farmer named Frederic in a small test plot, located in the walled-in backyard of Jesse’s Togo residence. At the beginning of the video, David speaks to Frederic in French about what he is doing. He then demonstrates the proper hole depth for planting corn. The holes were dug using a locally made hoe purchased at a local market. Once all the holes were dug, a measured amount of cow manure was placed in the hole. The holes were then covered with dirt, and a small amount of water was sprinkled on top. Later we planted corn seeds and covered over the plot with mulch, an effective method for keeping the soil moist during the dry season.

The field training included continual dialogue between David, Frederic and Jesse to confirm that the steps were fully understood, as well as a written manual in French that details the steps, for when the training team has left the country.

This week the team will be presenting a larger demonstration to about a dozen local farmers in Kande, a nearby town. Like we do in America, we are bringing food to encourage a good turnout! Thank you for your continued prayers for a receptive audience, smooth logistics, and for health and safety.