Here is an edited version of the 2016 Annual Agricultural Report
The project manager for the support project in Loilem has sent a report on progress over the past year. The report deals exclusively with agricultural issues, it does not mention wells, academic endeavors, or medicine. He states the project goals as improving the living standards in the targeted communities where many are very vulnerable and/or living with disabilities. This is to be done by enhancing farm and livestock production, ensuring food security, increasing support and participation in the communities, and increasing household incomes. The various measures are divided into short and longer term projects, with the definition being that a short term project should see results within a year. Short term projects include rearing fish, piglets, and chickens. Longer term projects include cows as well as the planting of dragon fruit, mango, and avocado. The outlook is for these longer term activities to be producing results in five to seven years.
This seems a long time, but the manager states that progress in both the long and short term projects can be seen and felt already and has already been beneficial to the communities.
This whole project is a work in progress, and there will be continuous work to implement it in the coming months and years.
The manager has been travelling to the project area at least one a month over the past year. He is in regular contact with the priest and sisters in the colony as well as the farmers committee and the village communities. He hears about the implementation, gets ideas and feedback, and monitors activity. Following each visit plans and preparations are made for the next steps.
The report describes the two main activities from the project manager’s perspective: long term agriculture and husbandry (husbandry: controlled cultivation, management, and production of domestic animals). For 2016, this meant planting of avocado, mango, and dragon fruit, as well as rearing fish, chickens and cows. The village committees and village communities also received seminars and training on the market value chain, income management, and land law and land rights. Prior to all this starting the village communities were given presentations on the overall project, to give an overview and obtain their cooperation, without which none of this can work out.
The project got going in April 2016 with the concept presentations and the formation of the farmer committee. The committee has 16 members, including the local priest, the sisters, and village residents.
The first seminar on agriculture and husbandry took place on May 20th, 2016. It was conducted by 2 trainers. 55 persons took part. Topics included making organic fertilizer, natural tonic for vegetables and piglets, and choosing fine paddy seeds for farming. All of this used local, readily available materials. The examples were not just theory, but practical demonstrations. It was apparent that the participants were very interested, and that there has been a beneficial effect on the community.
Various agricultural implements were purchased and turned over to the agricultural committee.
676 holes for posts were dug about 8 feet (about 2.4 meters) apart and posts were put into them. Two dragon seedlings were planted at each of these posts.
500 mango seedlings and 900 avocado seedlings were purchased for the long term program. 1000 holes were dug for the avocado and 500 for the mango. Avocado holes were 30 feet (9 meters) apart, mango were 15 feet apart. Organic fertilizer was used for these plantings.
Prior to purchasing piglets a pigsty was built out of brick, wood, and zinc roofing. The first batch of 8-month old piglets, 9 in all, arrived in March 2016. Another 16 arrived in June. The priest and sisters in the colony assigned two persons to take care of them.
As with the piglets, a shelter had to be built for the chickens before they arrived. A total of 191 were purchased.
A total of 50 cows were purchased, in small groups. It would have been preferable to only buy small cows, but since they are sold in groups and not individually this did not work out. Only 10 would fit in a truck for a trip to the colony, so a total of 5 trips were made. Two persons have been assigned to look after the cows, in the grazing area during the day and to bring them back to the cowshed in the evening.
2500 fingerlings were purchased and put into the pond. This was not the whole 20,000 originally intended, but the renovations to the pond are not yet finished. Once the renovation is done the rest of the fish will arrive and be added to the pond.
Use of proceeds
There was a discussion with the priest, sisters, and committee members in August 2016. It was agreed to use 60% of the proceeds from the sale of pigs and chickens for the patients, 20% for the care givers, and 20% will be reserved. A total of 8 persons attended this discussion.
Market Value Chain and Income Management
Two trainers conducted training on October 20, 2016. The event was attended by 20 persons, and 16 of these were from the farming committee. The lectures covered assessments and mechanisms on markets, product valuations, poverty, livelihood, income generation and saving. The participants were interested and participated actively in the training.
Land Law and Land Rights Training
Training on land law and land rights was organized for the farmers committee who conduct the long term agricultural and husbandry program, but interested people from the village community also joined in. A speaker was found who has extensive experience in these fields. In addition to explaining the issues he was also able to relate many stories from past experience. This seminar was also well received.
Monitoring of progress
The manager keeps an eye on the implementation of these activities and has taken many photos. This has led to decisions such as enlarging the pigsty, because as the piglets grew a larger pigsty became necessary. Though fish, chickens and cows also grow, there has been no need to find larger shelter for them.
The farmers committee together with village volunteers have been taking good care of the avocado, mango, and dragon fruit plantings, and this is going well.
The manager sees these strengths to the project:
· The village communities are actively participating
· The villagers are becoming knowledgable about making natural tonic for vegetables and pigs
· The pigs have been vaccinated
· The pigs, chickens, and fish are growing well
· Avocado, mango, and dragon planting is progressing well
· The villagers are gaining understanding of agricultural and husbandry techniques
· Organic fertilizer could be prepared prior to planting seedlings
And these challenges:
· There is a language barrier between the trainers and the villagers
· Hiring a machine to enlarge the fish pond – this is due to machine availability
· A budget is required for fish and chicken food
· Eagles from the jungle can attack and eat the small chickens
The village communities have become much closer and united than ever before due to the project implementation. Not just the farm committee, but also the other villagers are learning to participate and work together for the development program. They are becoming knowledgeable and are gaining experience in areas such as making natural tonic, choosing quality seeds and seedlings, understanding about types of soil, land law and land rights, how to protect their own lands and engage in solving land issues, and how to communicate with agricultural and husbandry product traders in markets and manage income. This comes from practical daily experience as well as from the workshops and seminars. This project is really effective and beneficial to the communities.
· Monitoring the projects monthly
· Another market value chain and land law and rights seminar for the committee members
· Provide materials needed for long term husbandry and agricultural programs
· Renovate the fish pond and then buy more fish
· Continue with the avocado and mango plantation