WASAE West Africa Society of Agricultural Engineering
16-19 July 2016 KENEMA VAGBOI, SIERRA LEONE
HOPE FOR A NEW DAY IN SIERRA LEONE FOR SMALL RUMINANTS
Small ruminants are very well known all over Sierra Leone. Although we love the meat but we refer to them as a nuisance because raising them does not go down well with crop farming. The choice for the type of them varies between sheep and goats depending upon the community. In the “Kpaa Mende” area in Sierra Leone, goats are more highly favoured. This is the case in Kenema Vagboi, where we held a workshop from 16th to 19th July 2016.
Kenema Vagboi is a small village of about five hundred inhabitants. It sits in the river basin to the west of the Tiaa River. About ten miles away, across the Tiai River, sits the Njala Campus of the Njala University.
The Njala University is the oldest, largest and highest Academic Institution where agricultural sciences are taught and studied in Sierra Leone. This campus is my Alma Mata and where I was a lecturer in Agricultural Engineering for ten years.
Kenema Vagboi is in relation with the Njala Campus for over ten years, yet the farmers of Kenema Vagboi practise traditional farming, like most other farmers in Sierra Leone. This then raises many other questions in my mind which I now raise:
PLAN B SYSTEM
The Plan B System is a very common and excellent phenomenon in everyday life. The Social Security System is a Plan B undertaking that when you retire and no longer earn a salary, the Social Security will be your next source of income. Saving money is Plan B for the day when you need a big sum of money but you don’t have it ready at hand. Death is a Plan B for life here on earth. Are you preparing for heaven by worshipping God or for hell by rejecting God?
God who is Almighty makes many plan Bs. His Plan A is a perfect and sinless life. His Plan B is redemption and salvation in Jesus Christ. Saint Paul once said, “But God has shown us how much he loves us - it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! By his blood we are now put right with God; how much more, then, will we be saved by him from God's anger!”
(Romans 5:8-9 GNB)
PLAN B OR C FOR KENEMA VAGBOI
A number of people and organisations have come together to put a plan B/C for Kenema Vagboi. These people/organisations are:
Plan B for Kenema Vagboi started in in 2014, when the first workshop was to be held. The Ebola situation in Sierra Leone then did not allow it. However, we were able to make it in 2016. We met in Kenema Vagboi from 6th to 10th July 2016. Raising small ruminants is our focus. We have started with sheep because “Jesus is our “Chief Shepherd”. “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the glorious crown which will never lose its brightness.”(1Pe 5:4 GNB)
About fifty farmers (men and women) from six villages in the community met at Kenema Vagboi from 6th to 10th July 2016. Our vision is “to enhance food security in the Kenema Vagboi community,” with the specific goals that “farmers acquire skills in food preservation and small ruminant production.”
Before this workshop in July 2016, the problems of food preservation and raising small ruminants came to our notice as the farmers reported. At this workshop the participants elaborated very clearly and it came out very strongly as following:
This is just to count a few.
Even though I lived on the Njala Campus for fourteen years, and visited every department, (even the Home Economics Department) I was fascinated by the pineapple and coconut products that were sealed in glass jars, carefully and safely preserved. It was prepared by Chris and her group of participants. The months of June and July are months of the second pineapple season in the Kenema Vagboi community. We enjoyed a lot sweet and juicy pineapple for our desserts.
Let me cite one of the clashes between crop farmers and those who raise goats in the Kenema Vagboi community. A month before the date for this workshop, a very big goat was bought which was to provide meat for our meals. A week before the start of the workshop, the goat went out to graze and tried to force its way into one of the rice fields near the village. The goat was caught in a trap that the farmer has set round his farm to catch rodents that would come to his farm. We lost that good goat.
THE DAWNING OF A NEW DAY?
To address the problems of goats roaming about and going into rice fields and destroying the crops, participants raise the following questions and came up with the respective suggestions:
The participants from the six villages represented pledged as following:
Kenema Vagboi hosted this workshop. As their reward, they were awarded seven ewes and one ram (all healthy and within one year of age,) as the seed stock. It was with the condition that the other five villages will work Kenema Vagboi from now to raise those animals and the other villages will get a share and also other resources as they become available.
Rev. Musa J. Jambawai