FFA GO: Africa – July 21, 2011

Research Institute Visit

By Teams A and B


After taking in a delicious Rwandan breakfast, both teams piled in to the SUV’s complete with all our belongings and trekked to the Agricultural Research of Institute of Rwanda where we reunited our forces.

The staff enlightened us all with a presentation of their work on research, extension, and livestock.  With the major focus on genetics and cross breeding, they are in coordination with IITA, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, and other Non-Governmental Organizations.  There are definitely a fair share of differences between Rwanda and the United States including the topic of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).  GMOs are not present as an option for them because of policy regulations and a lack of educating for advocating.  However the research they are conducting includes bitter and sweet varieties as well as white and yellow.  It is all making a huge impact.  Local varieties yield 15 kg/hectare locally  up to 45 (five times as much).  They have 6 staff working on the Cassava program.  They are trying to do intercropping with the young cassava. 

Highlights for Team A and B:

1.  Vincent’s mad driving skills whether it be going up or down steep mountain slopes, or across bridges that no longer exist we are always safe and stay on the road, however the children outside the vehicle may not be. Today as we drove past the school the children ran after us as usual, however Vincent came to an abrupt stop to put the vehicle in four wheel drive and the children powered by their excitement did not exactly. To say the least there was a slamming sound and a few children meeting face to face with the back window.

2. Ashley walked with a CRS worker to a water well that provided clean water to the area that we working in. To see the clean water and how the country is pushing for healthy water supplies is simply amazing and a foot in the right direction.

3. Farm field school the local farmers in a group incorporate new production techniques. From a technique called kitchen farming where they use bricks and tier step cabbage, or use a gunny sack and put soil in it to grow crops in smaller areas. They also are testing many varieties of cassava, carrots, etc. to find the best techniques to implement in their farms.

4. We ventured for our first time into the market place where Tom bought a safari hat. Have no worries it truly is a wonderful hat. In fact when we stopped on a road his safari hat attracted all the locals.

5. The women here swaddle their children onto their backs to carry them long distances or to be able to work in the fields with them on their back. It took days before we ever heard a baby crying and so when we got the chance to meet with some women farmers we asked how they swaddle, so we learned. It requires two thin blankets. In the small of your back you toss the child on and one blanket secures the bottom and the other goes around the body and ties in the front. It is a sophisticated piggy back and the women think we are crazy in the US to carry our children as it is not efficient.

6.  Taking in the Cassava fields was a dream come true!  We learned all about the challenges faced by famers in the area and how research plots are constructed by farmers to test out new clones of crops.  Once planted and matured, farmers are able to select their top clones to be marketed in the area as new varieties.

7.  Cows!  We took in the dairy and beef cattle herds and learned about what all goes into getting cattle and dairy products to markets.  Many are cross bred in order to find new varieties to help increase production.


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