Animal Traction for Better Agriculture
In Sierra Leone we have been involved for three years with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee helping farmers get re-established and develop a reliable food supply using work oxen. A long civil war in Sierra Leone destroyed most of the work animals and many of the crops. Farmers, some men and some women, are divided into groups of 10 and one person is chosen to be responsible for a team of oxen. The handlers are trained and seed rice is supplied. The farmers attend workshops and agree to repay the loan for the rice as well as to put some rice aside as seed for the following year.
With the third phase underway, 90 farmers are planting rice on expanded acreage using oxen. Following the pattern of the first two phases, from July 1/06 to Mar 31/07, 30 new farmers (21 men and 9 women and their families) were registered; 3 farmers’ committees were formed; workshops were held; animals, implements and seed were procured. Unfortunately, yields in some areas were poor because of a lack of adequate rain for the rice crops. Nonetheless, all the loans from the phase 1 and 2 farmers were paid in full with interest except for the group which had the poorest crops. We hope for better rain and crops this year.