Sunday, July 17, 2011

Progress in Gisagara!

There’s much to report from Ndatemwa Village in Gisagara, as the association has grown to 87 members and has begun two separate grant proposals that they will soon present, discuss, and vote on!

Above, Isugi, one of Spark's facilitators from the National University of Rwanda, speaks with the association

Over the course of the last month, the association has met several times both with and without Spark. Collectively deciding that they would like to wait to address the issue of jiggers until after the implementation of their food security grant, the association has been busy raising ideas about what that grant will be. Many first brought up the idea of bean and sorghum farming, though others were concerned that the village’s surrounding soil may not be fertile enough for such high yields. The idea of buying crops locally and re-selling vegetables in a bigger nearby market was then raised, though after crunching numbers, it was clear that profit would be low and transportation expensive. After much discussion, the association has now narrowed their focus down to two potential projects: cassava farming and animal husbandry. On Thursday, they split into two groups, 29 in the cassava group and 58 in animal husbandry, to think through the practicality and sustainability of their projects.
With local markets in mind, the cassava group is interested in growing cassava on a communal plot of land and then selling it to a nearby factory where it will be ground into powder. Proceeds from the powder will be pooled in a communal bank account and used to buy food that the community otherwise wouldn’t have access to. The animal group was overwhelmingly in favor of goat breeding, since goats reproduce quickly, get sick less, and provide fertilizer and meat. They have yet to decide, though, if they would like to follow Bukomero and Ubutwari Bwo Kubaho’s model of passing down goats to individual households as they reproduce, or if they’d rather keep collective ownership.

Stay tuned for more updates and details!

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