From our readers
I work in Scotland as a nutritionist with the NHS and part of our work involves giving small lectures and demonstrations on the importance of healthy eating and diversified diets. The clients I work with suffer from obesity, heart disease, diabetes and various deficiencies caused by poor diet.
I used the article about the Let’s Go Local campaign to encourage my patients to make changes in their diets. Of course, Pohnpei Island is very far removed from the areas where I work but the health problems caused by a poor diet and relying on processed foods are the same.
The shift the campaign has made from imported foods to relying on what is available and produced locally is very positive and is the way forward for the diets of the future.
Our institution gives out loans, mostly to women, for purposes like petty trade, house building, school fees, wood work, metal work, household goods, transportation, handicrafts, farm production and livestock feeding. The majority of our clients are city merchants and civil servants, but we have now started to lend farmers as well.
I would like to see people’s lives change and for them to teach their neighbours as well. For this, I would like to correspond with ILEIA.
Wondimagegn Endalelign Tsegaye, Ethiopia
Agriculture is a backbone of many countries, but proper attention is not given to agricultural sectors in developing countries.
Politics is one of the factors that hinder agricultural development in Africa. In Ghana, farmers find it very difficult to raise some money to buy subsidised fertilizers and other inputs. I therefore urged NGOs to liaise with the agricultural sector to provide farmers with inputs free of charge. This is the way to support poor farmers to raise their standards of living.
Selom Yao Nkomu, coordinator of Have Farmers Association, Ghana
We are now communicating with men and women in our areas about the ways to improve their farming and livestock practices, as shown in Farming Matters. Thank you!
Sani Sadauici, Nigeria
My work with the farming and fishing [rural] communities of Sinazongwe district in Zambia's Southern province requires that I am up to date with new innovations which can help to reduce shocks against harsh climatic conditions typical of this place-recurrent droughts, flash floods, livestock diseases among others.
The articles in the magazines are not only easy to read, but they are also something I have referred to in my academic pursuits.
I have attached one photo taken on a day I was out "in the field". I found my 'Farming Matters' to be the right way to use my free time on this particular day."
World Vision Zambia, Zambia
"My first sight of your June ’09 issue fascinated me. I was especially taken by your editorial which was very educative. I have found the magazine suitable for many of our village settings: empowering village farmers with know-how, working together and sharing information to focus more on their production.”
Wassajja Isaac, Fort Portal, Uganda
"I would like to thank you for your informative LEISA Magazines that I have been receiving for a very long time. The information in them is very useful to me, I have been referring to them in my profession. I work in the Ministry of Agriculture, three years in seed production, and then in agriculture extension for the last 16 years."
Sonam Wangdi, Assistant District Agriculture Officer, Paro, Bhutan.
"I have my own farm land where I work with my family. I have been reading your magazine and got lots of information from it, thank you. I want to see more experiences from other countries."
Gossaye Taye, Arsi Negele Agricultural Office, Ethiopia.
"I am a student at the University of Development Studies in Northern Ghana. I am also a farmer, as it is through farming that I can earn my school fees and also my living. I am a youth leader in my rural congregation where everybody is directly or indirectly involved in agricultural activities. The magazine is a helpful tool to me and the others I reach out to."
Neindow Moses, Tamale, Ghana.
"I have received much counseling, encouragement and solemn wisdom from the magazines in the years I have been reading them. The pictures of different people on the back (of the September issue) show that access to the gifts of heaven are open to us. I am sending you my picture so you can see who is reading your magazine."
Tony Alonmhan, Capable Agro Foundation, Edo State, Nigeria.
"I have just received a copy of the magazine with my photo on the poster. It feels so good. It has confirmed my long-held belief that I can earn a dignified life. For the past few years I have tried to make my yard look like the cover of the March 2009 issue. But without adequate water this can only happen in my dreams."
White Mvula, Mhangura, Zimbabwe.
I read the editorial article, and in our case, we prefer to 'mobilize' local resources. We here have UBSP (Usaha Bersama Simpan Pinjam - Saving Loan Units), and they all run on their own funds. What we provided are trainings, follow up visits, advices, etc. Gradually the saving becomes bigger! What we worry about when giving the saving units money from outside is just like "pouring too much water into a small half-full glass", this would cause a great damage even to the glass (group) itself.
Our groups have managed to collect enough money for their 'capital'. Very often we see that the problem is when you have no money and when you have too much money but you are not really having good plan how to use it wisely.
I am just sharing what we see at our farmer groups here in Manggarai, Flores.
Ayo Indonesia Foundation - Flores Organization for Rural Development, Indonesia
I participated in projects aiming at introducing some useful trees like Moringa species and Jatropha trees to the area. This received the backing of the government and the process is continuing in its fifth year. But it is a process so it has to take time.
Working among poor traditional people living in a desertified, semi-arid environment, under pressure from population growth and encroaching modernization, losing ground to more modern incomers is never easy. It is not just ‘a job’ but something like a missionary work. Your magazines have been little windows made of paper which open into a world of great too many local technologies and farming techniques. These traditional faming techniques could stand for the local poor and when supported by politicians, for everyone in the nation as sources of food security. In your book I was able to realize the sheer diversity of indigenous farming techniques and their versatility in the face of uncertainty and insecurity. I found insight to understand my local knowledge and I try to introduce the example of other nations to mine.
Amanuel Ghirmay, Eritrea
I agree with the premise of your article that we need to "support and manage the endless process of knowledge generation, facilitation and networking involved in what is essentially a spontaneous activity of socio-technical change." I think it is excellent that you have identified this as a focus for ILEIA.
Recently our organization has been striving to monitor and evaluate the success of our projects. We are getting better at measuring our performance, but we are still working to identify ways of measuring our impact in communities and on individuals. I think that the exchange of information is very important in our organization's work and I am interested in finding ways of measuring this in practice. How are you and ILEIA going to measure your success in meeting your goals for the generation and exchange of information? I would greatly appreciate any insight."
Jeff Follett, Trees for the Future, Australia
In the article, Harro Maat commented that scientists discounted the high SRI yields reported by NGOs and others because there was no information on the measurement methods used. This is a lame justification as there have been many evaluations where information on measurement methods was reported and conformed to standard ‘scientific’ requirements.
Half a dozen theses were done by Madagascar students for degrees from the Faculty of Agriculture (ESSA) at the University of Antananarivo in the early 1980s. Their measurements were done meticulously according to scientific protocols, with multiple replications, random block design, etc. That the theses were written in French is no excuse for IRRI and other scientists to not have followed up such reports, which were available upon request. There was no evident interest from these scientists in knowing factually about SRI.
NGOs do not have the training or equipment to do similar measurements. However, when they have reported SRI yields, they had used the same methods for measuring the comparison yields from conventional methods, usually on neighboring fields with same varieties and growing conditions. Even if the absolute yield levels might be questioned, the relative yields (ratios) should have been considered seriously. Three years of data from farmers using SRI methods in Madagascar showed average SRI yields of 8 tons/ha where farmers with same varieties on same fields were getting only 2 tons/ha with their usual methods. This four-fold difference was not attributable to ‘measurement error’ or uncertainties.
The NGO CARITAS recently reported that the farmers in Aceh, Indonesia, working with SRI methods introduced after the tsunami there are averaging 8.5 tons/ha compared to their previous average yield of 2 tons/ha (CARITAS NEWS, Spring 2009). It is incumbent on NGOs and others to report results as systematically and precisely as possible; but it should be similarly expected of scientists that they will take an open-minded interest in innovations that could be beneficial for farmers, especially resource-limited ones, rather than find reasons to dismiss reports without field testing and persist in working along their preconceived tracks. Sadly, many of the SRI skeptics/critics are continuing to ignore evidence of SRI’s merits now that these are being confirmed and reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, esp. in the journal Experimental Agriculture."
Norman Uphoff, Cornell University, U.S.A.