Tuesday was a fortunate day for me in that I was able to travel with a group of Jjajas to go with them to an educational model farm near Kampala. It was fortunate in that a couple of Jjajas did not show up so there was space available for myself. There were almost 30 grandmothers who came along with a counselor named Constance and the Volunteer Coordinator, Ali. In addition, two other partner groups joined us: Lazarus Group (a US-based organization started in 2008 to focus on women and orphans) and the Foundation for Sustainable Development (a US-based organization that supports a variety of sustainability efforts worldwide).
The place is called the Katende Harambe Rural-Urban Training Center (www.katendeagrotraining.com) which is a privately held organization. It sits on about 7 acres of land and houses about 17 different projects from innovative crop development to animal husbandry. The mission of the organization is to “provide quality training and extension services to urban and rural communities, small-scale farmers and partner organizations in sustainable integrated farming.” They often host training sessions for local groups, NGOs, and government officials. The projects are wide and varied. They range from introducing sack farming techniques, water catchment tanks to collect rain run-off and to “zero-grazing” cattle. In Uganda, cattle are almost free to roam over many unfenced areas and roads. I personally have never seen what I would call fenced ranches where cattle stay in one area. In this project cattle are constricted to one location and fed via attached troughs. This seemed similar to the cattle processing facilities in the US except the ones in Uganda were made of materials that most people could easily access (wood, nails, dirt). I was also intrigued by the charcoal refrigerator. What it is is a wooden box that has hollow slot sides that are filled with charcoal. When closed, water is slowly leaked into strategic holes in the box which wet the charcoal. Once this occurs, and evaporation starts, it begins to cool the interior. The temperatures can then drop to between 3-10 degrees C (according to the brochure)! This can help preserve food for about 3-5 days. Here in Uganda, most people do not have access to refrigeration and vegetables are not treated with preservatives, so many vegetable sellers have to throw out vegetables after a day or two.
I was really inspired by the Jjajas. They asked many questions and seemed to be really interested in learning about these techniques – particularly chicken farming since that is something that is easy to manage relative to cattle or pigs. St. Francis is now trying to coordinate future training events where an instructor may come to the demo farm in Jinja to train the Jjajas at their demo farm!
Some pictures are contained within the gallery below. Notice the size of the pigs and the one South African goat with the horns! I also have the picture of the refrigerator and also a solar dryer for drying out fruits for preservation.