This week we were in Njoro village, which is about 30 minutes from Arusha toward Mt. Meru. Melanie, Cara, and I taught about bio-intensive agriculture (BIA) to a class of 26 participants from the community. We taught them how to increase yields by using organic farming practices such as double digging, composting, and natural pest control. About five people in class had gone through BIA training previously in 2008 and were back to practice the farming techniques.
Wednesday and Thursday we taught practicals. Wednesday we made a compost pile and a primary nursery. Thursday we made a double dug bed. The compost pile was gigantic, and it was the most beautiful compost pile ever. After the compost pile, we made the nursery so that the farmers will have seedlings to plant in a couple of weeks. Thursday’s practical on double-dug beds also went well. The bed was 1.5 m X 6m. It took about 4 hours to dig the bed and plant Chinese cabbage seedlings.
Friday was the last day of training. Ediltruda (the sustainable agriculture trainer) taught about natural pest management. At the end, we handed out certificates to participants and had milk chai (tea) and mandazi (pastries) and sang a goodbye song.
The food in the village this week has been by far the best food out of all of the villages. We have chapati almost everyday for breakfast (which is like a tortilla but better and tastes great with plum jam!). There is always a lot of bananas (ndizi) and oranges (machungwa). The mamas we are staying with always make pili pili sauce — a spicy sauce that is made out of peppers and tastes good on everything! Everyday the participants in our class brought milk chai (which is tea made in milk) and mandazi (like doughnuts minus the excessive amounts of sugar). Needless to say, we ate well this week.
After teaching everyday for about three hours we did not do much. For the most part we just went for walks around the village and read books. The village this week was very beautiful and green, a stark contrast to the village from last week, which was very dusty and going through a drought. It was nice to be able to teach people who could actually put into practice the farming techniques because they did not have a lack of resources needed… So far I have read five books. Most of which were not very good.
– Nathalie G., Tanzania