So here comes the story behind this event: Three years ago I met Joseph in Uganda, some 100 miles from Kampala. Joseph showed me around his coffee farm and told me about hard times in his life. Some 5 years ago he struggled to pay the school fee for his 5 children and could hardly feed his family, every new year was worse than the last. His yields were constantly decreasing, his coffee tress fell sick and died and he wasn’t able to afford any fertilizers that could boost production.
The day I met Joseph however, 2 of his children were attending university in Kampala and the others were all attending high school in his district. He managed to support all of them by then. I asked Joseph what happened in-between and he was happy to tell me the whole story. When things were at their worst Joseph decided to take advantage of a training in sustainable and organic farming that was offered by a local cooperative. The training lasted two weeks and taught Joseph how to prune his trees at the right time, how to fertilize them with home grown fertilizers, how to plant other trees on his farm that would be beneficial for the health of his coffee trees and much more. Joseph managed to double his yield within the first year of applying what he has learned and has made further improvements year after year. He also received a higher price for his coffee beans as their quality substantially increased.
The best part of this story is, that Joseph didn’t have to come up with any financial investment to achieve all this. He only had to apply the right techniques to bring about dramatic change for him and his family.
Last year I met George who is building a school close to Kumasi where he will be teaching the same techniques that helped Joseph change the fate of his family to cocoa farmers (www.almamatereducation.org). I immediately decided to visit his project and once I learned more about their wonderful work, we decided we need to do a project together. And that’s what brought me back this time around. We committed to plant 3,098 trees as part of your rewards and George was excited to facilitate the nursing of the trees at the school’s model farm and later, once the seedlings are ready for transplanting, distribute them among the communities’ cocoa farmers.
He invited me to spend three days with him at the school where I could join the nursing efforts of the trees, learn more about their benefits for farmers and meet the people that will later plant the seedlings on their farms. And boy did I learn! I joined the farm’s staff in the nursing effort, saw the production of natural fertilizer (something the farmers who receive the trees will be able to do with their leaves), marvelled at how quickly food for 120 students can grow in the Ghanaian soil and got a really deep insight into Africa’s challenges when it comes to agriculture.
The trees we were able to plant due to your support will naturally regulate soil on farms, prevent erosion, provide re-growing building material and can be used to produce natural fertilizers. We also planted Moringa trees whose leaves have become known as super food and can be sold by the farmers for additional income or turned into nutritious food for their families. We actually had Moringa tea on one of the days which was spiced with ginger from the farm.
My last day on the model farm happened to be the last day for the students before summer break. So we invited the parents who run their own cocoa farms and asked everybody to give a helping hand for the last couple of hundred trees to be planted. George talked extensively to the farmers who will receive the trees about how to use them and will make sure the students will keep him informed about the progress on the farms. In the end we managed to greatly exceed our aim of 3,098 trees and planted a stunning 7,000 trees. We expect 5,000 of these to grow to seedlings that can be safely transplanted to farms. Among the trees we planted were Leucina, Gliricicidia and Moringa. All of them contribute greatly to the soils well-being and serve further purposes.
Many Thanks to all our backers who made this outstanding event possible!