May 2017 Program Roundup
May 22, 2017
Bauya & Lunsar, Sierra Leone
This month, we kicked off the new Seed Loan Program (SLP) in Bauya and Lunsar, Sierra Leone. This new program gives a hand up to farmers stuck in a cycle of buying seeds on credit. The program provides each farming group with two 50kg bags of groundnuts for planting in both the conservation agriculture method and traditional method; then requires the farmers to return the two bags at the end of the harvest season. We are working with nine total groups for the pilot run of the Seed Loan Program – four in Lunsar and five in Bauya. The groups have prepared and started planting their plots using both methods.
Results on the composting workshops and activities are in from Bauya and they are very promising. Inputs of manure (four large bags) have been doubled through the composting process. Each “pit” yielded 7-8 large bags of quality compost. This compost will be used in a comparison study between compost and manure for conservation agriculture groundnut plots. Our goal with this study is to show higher yields and lower costs through the use of compost, more sustainable and attainable option for farmers.
Savings Groups are gaining popularity across Sierra Leone. We’re pleased to announce the launch of two new Savings Groups! Our newest group, from the village of Malumpor, is in the early stages of drafting their constitution and welcoming all members who want to participate. These initial steps are very important in the launching process as they define the group’s identity and organizational structure. As members begin the process of saving and loaning, they will begin to build trust within the group as well as realize financial support, which gives them the resources to purchase necessities and pay for medical care and school fees. These groups have taken the first steps to making their own “impact that lasts.”
Conservation agriculture methods are showing outstanding promise this month. With successful compost harvesting and planting underway, we look forward to what the growing season brings. Savings Groups members are taking the initiative and influencing farming in the area. One such group, the Biakoye C Savings Group in Maame Dede, has completed an entire acre using conservation agriculture methods!
As we move into the growing season, it is expected that our farmers will face some challenges from the environment. We have heard reports that an armyworm “invasion” may be seen in Ghana and other parts of West Africa. This pest has the ability to bring significant destruction and impact on farmer’s crops. Our teams are aware of the potential threat and are keeping an eye out. Armyworms have shown resistance to pesticides in some regions and unless stopped early, they can impact not only the crops themselves, but the finances and food sources of the area.
Savings Groups in Ghana have shown successful share outs this month. The Nukware group showed a 17% return on investment at the end of their first cycle. And, the Emmanuel B group brought in 23% for each share. Both groups are excited to get started with the second cycle, despite challenges with a small number of loans defaulting. Our Field Officers continue to work with the Savings Group members to build trust and accountability for the saving and loaning programs.
This month, Survival Skills students have been studying Independent Living. Lessons have included topics such as time management, purchasing necessities and promoting realistic expectations.
English as a Second Language students learned about transportation, time and family. The students learned about the subway, which was a new concept to many of them. They also learned the difference between “a.m. and p.m.” when telling time, and how to communicate the difference.