Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Agroforestry practices

Occasionally, we do what our original paperwork sent from Washington D.C. said we would do.  Agroforestry Extension Agents.  We did some land, plant, tree work in our rainy season garden, we grew a tree called Moringa.  This tree has some great characteristics including vitamins, nitrogen fixing, worm extraction, and water purification.  To read more about this ‘miracle tree’ you can go to our friends Josh and Kelsy’s blog:  Josh is extremely ‘in the know’ when it comes to Moringa, and even facilitated a Moringa planting trek across the country.  That’s what good volunteers do in their spare time, organize treks.  Ben and I….don’t organize treks.  They are in the group that is about to go back home and the rest of us are all sad because we’ll miss them!!! Don’t leave guys; party’s just getting interesting ;)!
Back to the tree, it is actually interesting and when we were in Senegal traveling to Cape Verde, we met a volunteer who is trying to link growers with an American businessman who bottles the leaves and sells them as vitamin supplements in health food stores.  Not sure if that legitimizes this ‘miracle tree’ claim for you, but I’m always happy to try things for free that other people spend lots of money on.  We also heard that this process was easy and could help with villagers’ nutrition problems, and that the NGO concern universal would pay money for the pounded, dried leaves.  So we planted, harvested, dried, and pounded it and now are putting 1-2 scoops in our rice meals for nutritional supplements.  We have discussed this process with our family and villagers to try and do the same.  Luis, our Spaniard in village, and our youth association are also interested in growing Moringa as well.  So far, the process was simple, easy to do, and has kept us healthy these past couple of weeks.  We’ve given out small amounts to some people in the village and they appreciate it and we’ve found that most people do know about the tree and call it ‘boro’, mandinka for medicine.  Hopefully, they will follow our example of growing it and eating it themselves.  If nothing else it is a good reminder.
We also helped prepare the local mosquito repellant called ‘Neem Cream’ with our Youth Association.  It turned out better than expected with the organization recouping the costs of the materials within a few days of making the cream.  The villagers like it too and ask us about it frequently.  Our biggest problem was finding containers to put the cream in!
Moringa leaves heading to the drying mat

Rice drying in the fields

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