Travelog Kasese Mushroom Project, Uganda

Christa Randzio-Plath mushroom projectPUWACG Habitat village, kamaiba Parish, central division Kasese municipality, base camp lower village west central division kasese municipality.

There were difficulties during the journey, so that the arrival in Kasese was delayed. Due to the security situation (on my arrival at the airport the police chief of Uganda was murdered). A state of emergency should be declared. In addition, the rented car did not work either, so that a visit to the workshop became necessary.

25 women waited in the parish hall. You were a member of the mushroom group. Four of them also had a local mushroom group with about 20 members. They expect a lot from their new knowledge in mushroom cultivation and have passed on their professional knowledge to other women. The women composed a song about mushroom growing and described their mushroom growing in it. The song was in their local language. The women also performed a play about the situation of the woman in their villages, which was very impressive;

The play is about the following: a girl goes to school and is removed from class because her school fee has not been paid. The girl comes home crying.  Her father took her mother’s last money to drink with friends in the bar. He comes home totally drunk. The next day, his drinking buddies come to him and demand money. The parents have nothing. The father gives his youngest daughter to his drinking companions to pay for his debts. Crying, the mother decides to earn money for herself and her daughters and participates in the mushroom project.  She doesn’t give her husband any more money and saves it so that her daughter can go back to school. Happily the daughter returns to school, the tuition is paid. She gets a good report card and shows it to her happy mother.  Even her father no longer drinks and is convinced of the importance of her daughter’s education.

The cultivation of white mushrooms, mostly oyster mushrooms, takes place in a model hut. The women grow mushrooms decentrally. They live far apart. They have learned to make, water, dry and then assemble bales of cotton and other natural fibres to form a firm bale which they either hang in huts or place on wooden shelves.  The spores are delivered to them, but they want to learn to breed spores themselves in order not to endanger the regularity of their work and merits. Delivery times are not reliable.  The mushroom containers can be used for four months, the harvest seems good. Women are optimistic about the market situation. For half a kilo of white mushrooms they achieve 70000 Uganda shillings.  The women sell the mushrooms on the local markets, but also make contact with restaurants.

The women have all learned to make and sterilize the biomass mushroom containers. You’ve learned to put your spurs in. They learned to water the mushrooms regularly, four to five times a day.

The women are subsistence farmers, are usually married and have primary education, some have attended secondary schools. Your English skills are not sufficient, although only English is the official language in Uganda.

The women’s group was well organised, but the experts are men who are good with women.  All women say they give daughters the same chances as their sons.

Travel Kenya, Project: Mama Helena

Professor Dr.h.c. Christa Randzio-Plath

Despite the difficult travel and entry conditions, the first appointment with the agricultural research institute KARI at the University of Kisii was already made.

The expert in charge, John Owuor-ORW- 0724681- 162, is a scientist who has specialised in the soil composition of land to be used for pond construction. Soil samples are taken and analysed in the laboratory. All ponds that Mama Helena sets up with the pond groups have undergone soil testing and, from a scientific point of view, have received permission as a prerequisite for official approval. Particular attention is paid to the soil plague caused by termites and the percentage of clay in the soil.  The HomaBay region is particularly suitable for the construction of fish ponds due to its high groundwater level. KARI, KARLO and the Ministry of Fisheries at county level work closely together and advise civil society projects. Mama Helena’s management team was also joined by fish expert Daniel from the Ministry of Fisheries. An attempt is being made to optimise the fishpond project because the nutritional situation of the population requires appropriate steps to be taken. This is why the government is now also supporting fishpond projects to improve the food situation. A fishpond group of Mama Helena, who built the first fishpond with funds from the Marie-Schlei-Verein, was able to win the contract for another fishpond financed by the government.

The group discussion with this project Friday evening was very lively and underlined the economic necessity for the project. It was also impressive to note that here, as in all other fishpond projects, the women carried out the hardest work of fishpond excavation – between 1.2-17 m and the associated dam construction around the pond itself.  In addition, the women perform advance work because the first results are not expected for six months. The exposed fingerlings are purchased from a private company that has a quasi-monopoly. Because of the quality of the fish, women may only buy fingerlings that are at least two weeks old. They are fed three times a day without any chemical additives. Most of them are silverfish or rice shells, which are also used to fertilize the ponds with cow dung or chicken manure. The aim is to achieve as many 1000

Vanilla Project, Uganda

The Vanilla project could not be visited with the president, the telephone contacts did not work. She wasn’t present at the project. After returning to the project I met her in her project office in Kasese. She didn’t apologize.  The office on the outskirts of the city is small, in the forecourt there are piqued vegetable plants in bales of earth to be bought by the women, cabbage, eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes etc. . The office is tiny. There’s a computer. She was not prepared for the audit of the accounting records. She showed receipts with receipts from the four instructors who work full-time for the local agricultural ministry in Kasese. There were also receipts for the vanilla plants.  A settlement was promised for 3/20.

The project itself is located 60 minutes from Kasese and is difficult to find. The descriptions of the project locations were completely inadequate, as was the case here.

We have met the vanilla women with the help of village to village. There were few of them because they had gone to church. We visited the first vanilla plantations with the instructors. Noah told me. The women worked very well in the training and learned a lot. Several women have family members in other vanilla farms. Everything runs as smallholder agriculture.

The vanilla plant is planted as a vine between banana trees so that there is enough shade. A two-foot deep hole is necessary and compost, morning and evening must be watered in the dry season. The women have between 50 and 150 vanilla plants depending on the size of the family country. The women live widely scattered, partly in the mountains. The women have also learned how to fight diseases of the vanilla plants, e.g. with herbs. So they grow herb gardens and disperse gff. powder over the flowers.

The first vanilla blossom is expected after two years. Then the pods come. The women demonstrated how fertilization can be done by hand. The women are very skilful at it. They demonstrate it on a few old vanilla plants. A vanilla plant can be harvested 2x a year. The harvest is in February and July.  There’s a lot of money for vanilla. That’s why the women are so patient. You have to work two years without a return.  7 fields were visited. It was found that the vines on the ground were protected with dry undergrowth and banana leaves.  The women expect at least 250,000 USH for 1 kilo of vanilla. A plant can produce at least 1 kilo of vanilla.

A meeting with 40 women took place and the list of participants was handed over. The women are committed and cheerful – despite their great poverty. They like to laugh and dance and sing. The women are between 20 and 50 years old and have between 4 and 10 children.  The meeting took place in front of the parish hall, which can also be used as a training room. There is elementary school, secondary school, medical station and a nearby hospital. All the women give birth in the hospital.  It costs about 15 000 USH.  Five women had attended secondary school, few speak English, although English is the official language. Two trainers explained the training courses. The trainer Noah Nzaghate from the agricultural department in Kasese praised the participants. 4x 7 days was the training, which is passed on to other women. The training and the women’s meetings take place in the parish hall.

All women are small farmers, their husbands are farmers too. They’re thrilled to get a cash income from the vanilla project. Now Jolly and Margaret are planting the bananas in the shade.  They water mornings and evenings. The women from the group get up at 6 a.m., make breakfast for the family, then work in the fields.  Also let goats graze. At noon they make dinner for the family. From 3-4 p.m. some rest, others do laundry etc… That’s the way it is every day. They go to church on Sundays. Sometimes we have meat on Sundays. Chicken is only for Christmas.  Everyone has a mobile phone, but many network problems.  They don’t have television. Electricity is still difficult, as is access to clean drinking water. There are hardly any sanitary facilities at the schools, not in the village, sometimes at the petrol stations. Very small motorcycles have many, especially young men. They cost between 70 and 120 euros and come from Japan, China and India.

Chili Project IGEDA- Kisanga village, March 2017

After some effort the project office was found and occupied by three men and one woman. There were two computers. Chili products were on display. The men talked, the woman didn’t. We were then told that IGEDA’s main office is 80 km away. We could have visited it, if we had been informed beforehand. So we could not see the machines paid by MSV. They’re there because there’s more chili to process. The consulting organization Mesopotamia Notre Dame was present by a consultant and made a good impression. Balyana Ikongo has not been introduced to me.

We then met the women in their fields in the national park and gathered behind the house at a group member’s house, where the sample bed with chili was also lying. Due to the drought the condition was deplorable. Climate change shortens the rainy seasons and extends the dry periods by at least one month at a time. The patience of women is enormous. But there’s no alternative either. The group of over 30 women was extremely lively and committed, but also disappointed with the project results to date.

Chili has been confirmed as being very effective against elephants everywhere. But you need bushes, not just small gardens. These gardens are used for the production of chili. A solar dryer of the most primitive type was built up and showed how successful the solar drying of chilli is, which even retains its colour and can therefore be sold well. The greenhouse is not being used and is in a condition for improvement.  But the plants are now well covered before the sun by the covering with banana branches and leaves or the like. The chili transplantation into the own gardens is still missing as well as the training for the operation of the machines.  They are missing in the project just like the 2nd solar dryer.

The regularity of advice and exchange suffers from the distances and the totally inadequate infrastructure. Women take long journeys to learn. Fortunately there is a good national road through Queen Elizabeth Park. But also I used the Landrover from the national road for one hour to the project – over very bumpy sand roads.

The women are between 23 and 45 years old and have between four and ten children. The schools and the medical station are easily accessible.  They complain that no bandages are available for girls during the period. You can’t afford it. They are not distributed free of charge by the schools. Therefore the girls usually miss 1 week a month.  The women underline that they treat their daughters and sons equally and that their husbands help them on Sundays to prepare food and wash their clothes.

The project makes a very good impression. When the rain comes, the vegetable gardens can be successful. The Landfunk and the information material are already there today. The interest of the rural population is great and HAWOTRAC is well integrated into the region. The NGO is registered and also supports other projects such as an orphanage project, a reforestation project, an ambulance. It is regrettable that the church repeatedly charges rent for the use of the parish rooms for training purposes.  The group seems well organized. The accounting is in need of improvement, a central problem for all NGOs in Uganda as I was confirmed in Kampala.

This project also negatively addressed the issue of women’s education, school attendance and the provision of sanitary napkins for girls.

Vegetable Project Uganda: Parish Kajwenge in Kisinga Sub County in Kasese District

Mary Nziabake, expected us at a cross with her husband, who is a teacher. She speaks English and has attended a secondary school. She’s organizing the project.

A sample field of the women’s group was visited. It showed wonderful vegetables. The women are subsistence farmers and work daily in the fields. For the cultivation of maize, cassava and sweet potatoes for own use.  Only on Sundays they go to church in the morning and not to the fields. Vegetables are an important source of income for them. You learned that on the pattern field that was close to the community rooms. There was mainly cabbage, but also tomatoes, beans, onions.

Afterwards a conversation took place in a small office with about 30 women in the nearby village. Although English is the only official language in Uganda, the women had to be translated from their own language (there are 59 own languages in Uganda). This means that very few women had regular school attendance. The women were between 21 and 45 years old and had more than three children except for three women. Several women have ten children.  The woman in the photo with the white dress had ten children.

But there were also many children, since it was Sunday. Her condition was unfortunate. They had completely torn clothes, were not washed and had partly untreated wounds. What was touching was the love with which the mothers looked after their children. The large number of children is due to a lack of education and family planning, cultural tradition and pride in a large family, child labour and, finally, national pride in a large people.

The women’s performances are unbelievable. Thus a long life phase of women is characterised by pregnancies, births and also miscarriages. At the same time they have to cultivate the fields, manage the household, go to the market and supply the family almost exclusively with starchy food. In addition to generating income, vegetables are also a nutritional alternative. Cash is usually not available. When crops fail, disaster strikes, the rain comes much too late.

Women can earn a small extra income on the market with coffee. They harvest some coffee bushes in their fields, roast the beans in the sun and sell them on the market.

Information was given on land radio, radio is the only medium through which news can be disseminated and knowledge can be passed on, is in the local language. Kamuga Women Centre is supported by the agricultural consultant Muhindo Moris. An English leaflet with drawings of vegetable cultivation was also shown.

Christa Randzio-Plath: Binding Project Kenya 2017

Due to the chaotic planning of Mama Helena we were on the 10.3. from 8 o’clock in the morning until 8 o’clock in the evening with the driver in impassable areas on the way, that increased on the 11.3., when we were on the way from 8 o’clock to 17 o’clock – over stick and stone and untenable sand ways, so that we had to cover several kilometers on foot. As a result, the driver refused to make the journey to the Bugoma site (bandage project) the next day. It was possible to bring the project partners to Kisii. On 11.3. in the morning and on 12.3. in the morning there were talks with the project partners, Delphine Lavine with her husband, who is also involved in the project.

The partners’ lack of project experience became clear.  They repeated everything they had told the MSV about the project description. But they are very committed and well anchored in the community. They get advice and help

It was stated about the project location that the space is large (70x100m) and 5 groups of five women can be trained on sewing machines and cutting tables and can also produce. The material will be supplied by a Kenyan binding company, which will also send the two trainers for three weeks. It is assumed that the light is sufficient due to the windows. It is checked how it stands with the costs of the electrical connection. Neighbor’s got power. The photo showed a larger hall on an area, where it is also possible to work outside. Approvals for the production of bandages have been obtained from the head of the town and the local health authority. The cotton delivered is cooked and dried.

The demand for inexpensive bandages is high.  The project coordinator Lavine works with the implementation committee of the women’s group on the implementation. She has tailoring experience as well as two other board members.  The women are trained for three weeks by the two i professionals Rose Nabangala and Centrine Wanyony. The group works together with a company Sang `alo . She procures the material. The women’s group is supported by a volunteer: I. Muchwange Sakula. The company cannot be found on the Internet. This small company has now focused on professional development, Sang’alo Institute of Technology (SIST).  The Institute not only provides training for production, but also for marketing and accounting at the Ufanisi Women Group training centre in Kisiwa location in Bungoma County, western Kenya.

The women in the women’s group are small farmers with an average of five children. They produce sweet potatoes, corn, cabbage. There is no access to family planning. Schools are available.

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