October Project Roundup: Exiting Pineapple Project, Boots on the Ground in Panama, Corn Harvest in Ghana
October 19, 2015
We now have six established VSLA groups plus several pending. We look forward to sharing more information about those with you soon.
The first plot of corn from the demonstration site has been harvested. As a reminder, this was the crop the cows attacked early and had poor germination. The team is conducting a soil analysis and looking at yields as well as other factors. The other two plots are approaching maturity, and David has been giving advice on how long to leave this corn in the field to dry properly in order to calculate proper yield forecasts for the different varieties planted.
The team is also beginning to design the next phase of planting. This will include testing using crop rotations, the use of mulch vs. a green cover crop, and other issues. Some of the moringa trees we planted have already reached one meter in height.
We congratulate Collins Pipim on his recent promotion to Innovation Hub manager!
With no new cases of Ebola in the last month, Sierra Leone is nearing the end of the countdown to 42 days with zero Ebola cases, at which point the country will achieve Ebola-free status. During our recent visit, it was impressive to see the entire country working hard to reach this goal!
Just prior to our arrival in Bauya last month on September 15, our third load of fresh pineapple was delivered and sold in the Freetown area. Upon our arrival to the site and an inspection of the farm, we made the difficult decision to cease harvesting, due to fruit spoilage. Our harvest window came and went very quickly for several reasons: all plants had been forced to ripen at the same time in preparation for a juicing harvest that was thwarted by the shutdown of the juicing processor; heavy rains made for a slow fresh market sellout; and government law does not allow Sunday markets. Some local “will call” markets absorbed many of the fruits, as did some of the people in the village. A small number of pineapples continue to ripen, but the quantity does not justify the cost of fuel or transportation to market. Sullay reports many are being given to school children, and some are being taken as gifts to people in the new community health office that opened in Bauya last month.
However, after the many struggles we faced with Ebola, new boots on the ground, and often limited access to information of plant status, it is heartening that many of our employees still want to be pineapple farmers. They have learned so much about the process of planting, maintaining, forcing and sales, that many are now clearing land for their own pineapple farms. We will provide them with the suckers from our crop to help them get started.
On our recent trip, we listened to security team members discuss business ideas they feel empowered to pursue now that their services are no longer needed as a Just Hope employee. At the end of September, Just Hope provided a severance package and other benefits to assist them in getting their businesses started. Joe and Sullay will remain Just Hope employees as they monitor, evaluate and support our past workers as they embark on developing their new careers. After three long, bittersweet days in Bauya, Ben and I left the community in the hands of locals.
Jesse is struggling with a back issue that has forced him to remain home for now. Please pray for his comfort and God’s healing hand.
We have secured a manager to oversee the life skills education in Panama. Carolina Patino has been highly recommended, and we were impressed on our recent visit with her knowledge on life skills education and her ability to report. She will start by retooling our life skills curriculum in ways that would be better suited for the children.
We are also excited to announce that Dan Hutts has joined the Just Hope leadership team as Executive Vice President. Learn more about Dan.