Friday the 13th began with reflection, presentation of homework and experiments of different soil textures led by Dr. Nehemiah Mihindo, our facilitator all the way from Kenya. The Kajo-Keji peer farmers became really scientific in no time and the two groups were very happy when the lecturer proved their calculations of soil layers right.
Immediately after 10am, the team set off to the field, 10 kilometres away from the 291 suites hotel. Upon arrival, the facilitator Dr Nehemiah Mihindo quickly explained the different kinds of pests that attack crops, then divided the team into three groups and asked each person to go into the garden and collect six (6) different kinds of pests they come across in the garden within 15 minutes.
Our host farmer had a beautiful compound, with flowers of all kinds. His garden consisted of sesame, sunflower, and soya beans intercropped with banana. He also had trees for both fruit and timber. He was such a soft-spoken person and was kind enough to let us into his home and garden to do our examination of the different pests that threaten our crops.
Golda, Julius and Mary were in one group; Yango, Lydia and Dorcus in the second group; then Cecilia, Esther, Roselyn (Project manager – Send A Cow) and I in the third group. In 15 minutes, everyone emerged from the gardens with the different pests they had found in the different parts of the garden.
The team then gathered around the facilitator who gave a detailed explanation of the different kinds of pests the groups had found, the kind of plants they attack, their feeding habits, the harm they cause to the plants they attack and how to manage them using natural means. It was very interesting to learn that we can actually use some plants that grow naturally as pesticides, instead of harming our soil and plants with dangerous pesticides, which may in the long term, be actually harmful to us human beings.
We then went back to the hotel and had a late lunch before having a quick class on making liquid manure that is very good for vegetables, then wrapping up our pests and diseases class. Dr Nehemiah said his farewell and the team sincerely appreciated him for being a great facilitator and a very humorous person. His classes were quite tough in the beginning because they were mostly practical and everyone had to stand in the sun for more than an hour, but it was all very beneficial in the end. Roselyn says that tomorrow is going to be a lot more relaxed so we all look forward to that after quite a marathon these past few days.
Written by Joseph Aba, Head of CRESS in South Sudan