So the Chief’s funeral officially ended today. As Darryl mentioned, it mostly involved singing and dancing and actually resembled a big celebration more than a funeral. The two-day event gave us a perfect chance to get our bearings before getting to work. We actually got to talk to community members and gave everyone a sense of what we would be doing up until Christmas.
Tomorrow we head out to the farms for the first time, but I feel that it’s important to first clarify for everyone what exactly what Project RISE Phase 2 entails before we begin. As I mentioned before, I came to Ekumdipe a year and a half ago to start an irrigation system. This included transporting 4 pumps (approximately 500 dollars a piece – thanks to all who are donating!) and an extensive pipe system from the capital city of Accra to the rural town. After meeting with the farmers and demonstrating the system, I returned to the U.S. The people of Ekumdipe were able to grow crops during the following dry-season, something they’ve never experienced before!
Although, the people were able to witness dry-season farming for the first time ever, the yield of first harvest was still not as high as our original goal. This is an extremely important metric, as the system can only become self-sustainable if the people able to substantially increase their incomes with the new crops. We went back to our research and surveyed the farmers to identify issues. All of the participants voiced some form of concern over the lack of knowledge and experience with this type of system, as it’s the first time they have ever used it.
In order to further counteract this problem, we have recruited an outside farmer from the northern Bawku region (who is very proficient at this type of farming) to come to Ekumdipe for this dry-season. Our hypothesis is that by working side-by-side with an expert, the farmers of the community will be able to learn needed techniques more efficiently, see the true economic potential of dry-season farming with their own eyes, and further buy into the system and experience higher yields themselves. We’re going with the Bawku farmer out to the field tomorrow to get more information on how to further utilize the system to raise incomes. Stay tuned!