Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New farming, New literacy

August 2012: So based on actual visits to farms by my three extension colleagues, 83 (30%) of the 275 people we've trained in faith-based conservation farming (Farming God's Way) have kept practicing the methods we taught them throughout this growing season; I had hoped for more. But there are some outstanding examples among those who have done it right, and even shown initiative and experimentation like Pastor Faustino who grew beans using our methods, and worked out a way to dig ditches to drain the too-much-rain from his maize (corn) and later when the days are too dry to stop up the ditches and fill them with sand so that they keep the water but don't breed mosquitos. I praise God for him and many others like him! Farmers in northern Uganda taught me a lot during my August trip there about the ins and outs of adding value to agricultural products through grain and cassava milling, rice hulling, and pressing oil seeds. Bankers told me about new things they're doing to help farmers get the money they need to move into more profitable farming, like beekeeping. I'm trying to figure out how to apply what I learned in South Sudan, and am hoping to learn more that can be applied to increasing the success of farming here as the farm economy keeps growing. September 2012: On September 7, 2012, the Government of the Republic of South Sudan launched its literacy campaign. But exactly 4 months earlier on May 8, we helped the UMC here launch its own effort to teach village women "numbers literacy": to read and write numbers and be able to do arithmetic; so that we could then teach them small business record-keeping and management. With God's help, by the end of January we will have taught about 200 women from 17 villages and Yei these skills.