Saturday, February 27, 2010

The model farm

We have chosen a manager for the model farm that is being established down the road from the CEFA land. His name is Desiré, and boy does he have a green thumb. He has been growing and selling veggies for years, most recently here in our region. He will take care of the regular crops, such as peanuts, corn, and manioc (possibly new strains) as well as raising all sorts of vegetables. He will manage the fish ponds, which are under reconstruction right now. We are hoping to purchase a pair of oxen for pulling a plow, and there will be fruit trees on the farm as well. All this is in hopes of encouraging the locals to do the same, to provide a "do-able" example that anyone might follow in order to better feed and take care of their family.

Here is Desiré in the vegetable garden:
Here are the fish ponds being worked on:

The road is finished!

The road is completed, the road crews have been paid, and access to the CEFA land is now a straight shot without worrying about damaging your vehicle. The ditch for putting up the fence is being worked on, and the buffer zone of public orchard and park are mapped out along the whole front access of the land and now need to be cleared. The completion of the paperwork for the official NGO documents in the capital city is still in process. We have to jump through a few more hoops, it seems, but we have hopes that it will soon be done.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Progress with the CEFA land

The work on the road is going well. The five kilometer stretch of road from the main road to the CEFA property has almost been completed by groups of about 10 people each to clear 500 meter stretches. Hopefully it will be complete by the end of the week. Well, all except for the creation of ditches along the sides of the road to catch the runoff when the rains start. The ground is too hard right now in some places to make these rain gutters. The dry season is almost at an end, we usually have some rains beginning in mid-March.

Roy and others have found the corner boundary markers with the help of compass and GPS, hacking through the brush with a machete. They also placed flag markers along the boundaries.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's a dog gone shame!

This story, from Roy, just landed in my inbox. While it may be a bit gruesome for the gastronomically unadventurous, it is the reality of life in our corner of the Central African Republic. In this account, Roy talks about his first taste of dog, an animal that most of us would not want to consume. Fortunately for me, dog is on the 'list' of foods taboo for women to eat in CAR. Whew!

The other day, as we were working on the roads, I heard some of the crew mumbling that there was a dog in the stew pot out in the yard near where we were working. It was a large cooking pot and sure enough, when I went over to check it out, it was full of pieces of meat that were clearly from a dog (don't ask how I knew!). I asked the workers why people were cooking dog. They said that people are desperate for meat. 

But, I said, this is the first I have heard of Central Africans eating dog. They replied that some do. I took a poll and it turned out that 4 out of 8 of the workers said they would eat it. One said it was the greasiest of all meats calling it "the meat that does not stick to your fingers". I challenged them and said, you know, in China, dog meat is a staple and they raise dogs just for consumption. Then, they dared me to try it! 

Now, you have to understand, Central Africans eat just about anything that moves - I've had the pleasure of eating snails, grubs, caterpillars, monitor lizard, python, anteaters, and just about every type of mammal.... so, I am no wimp when it comes to trying new foods, ...... but dog? I could hardly say no, so, I went for it! It was pretty tasty and not tough at all! In the end, how is one mammal really all that different from another? 

The point of this unusual tale is to point out that the search for a daily source of protein is becoming so difficult in Central Africa that people have resorted to eating their pets. At first, one may react to this as disgusting, but in reality, it is about survival. Put into the proper perspective, eating dog meat can increase the protein intake for your family, if only in the short term. While CEFA is open to new ideas for helping Central Africans with food security, raising herds of dogs is not one we will be advocating. CEFA will be focusing on more sustainable and low cost means to increase protein in the diet such as growing beans and raising fish.