The farmers of Adda talk about their experiences with ECDD

One month ago, I’ve been to Adda. It was the occasion to meet our farmers and to have a better understanding of their everyday life.

How did you get involved in the ECDD project

Saidin said that one-day, he saw a car in the village “with a white man in it.” He wondered what was going on, went to enquire, found out about the project and although he was not on the initial list of beneficaries, managed to get involved in the project.
For the others, they took part in meetings either after being invited or coming across them got quickly involved in the project.

What activities did you develop with the project, and what were the result?

The beneficiaries are mainly involved in the agricultural activities of the project. Some of them are now growing market gardening crops like potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, carrots, peppers, others food crops such as bananas. Several of them combine these crops.

Returns differ according to each person and each plot. It does not mean that every attempt was successful, but they are unanimous: the results are there.
For example for Saidin, chilli was the main resource this year, gaining him anincome of 20.000francs per week over six months. For Kamlati or Ouséni, after planting 50kg of potatoes, they collected almost 300 kg of potatoes, including 50kg of seeds set aside for replanting during the next season.

What did you learn during the project ?

Our villagers all agree: they all consider the training and all the skills acquired the most valuable learning they got from ECDD. They feel more self-confident, and believe they have learnt the skills to enable them to be independent. Several also noted their ability to transmit these skills to others.

Saidin quotes more precisely the battle against erosion (through old unused tires), the preparation of compost and the construction of cattle parks … Kamlati emphasizes the techniques used to prepare seed nurseries, Ouséni speaks about the the spacing between plants to ensure better productivity, or the importance of crop diversification to keep his fields fertile and give him better yields.

What impact did the project have on your life?

The two women, Nasihuati and Kamlati, talk about the wayincreased incomes have helped them with paying to put their children into school . Saidin was able to buy a secondhand motorcycle, which allows him more movement in between his parcel in the centre of the village and those further away
Overall they all live a little better, and most of them are more confident in the future and more curious to try new crops and new techniques. Shibako is is optimistic for the future and is aware of all the improvements, but he also feels he’s too old now and regrets not being able to get more involved.

Nasuati est l’une des femmes agricultrices du projet ECDD

What are the challenges you are facing? What are the issues to be addressed in the future?

They are all unanimous on the major problem: access to water. For them, it is the central issue that needs to be resolved in the near future. How to do it, they are not sure. But there is already an irrigation zone in construction with Dahari, to provided water to the famers of the village.

Do you think that the support you received will have a sustainable impact?

Sustainability of the project comes through in the same way for each villager interviewed: the dynamic is sustainable since it is not just an occasional help, but a proper training. They feel ready to be independent, but most important they believe that the sustainable aspect of the project exists in their desire to share. Ouséni presented it nicely: “it is necessary to share themessage otherwise the project doesn’t make sense.” Although at the same time they all hope the NGO will stay here longer, to support them, and introduce them to other techniques or crops.

It is rare, however, to hear them talk about the sustainable protection of natural resources: it is not yet a priority. Their priority is to provide for their families and to work to live more comfortably. This doesn’t mean that they are not aware that there is work to be done on this side of things: Ouséni has already understood that he can make more by focussing on a small plot in the village than by creating a new field in theforest zone. Kamlati recognizes she still uses chemical fertilizers, but “only at 50 %.” The other 50 % has been replaced by chicken manure, and she aims to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers further.

Do you have a message to convey to your peersabout your experience with ECDD ?

Shibako has a message for the young people who “play football and dominoes”: they must get involved, and not stand idly by, they must act to improve their lives . He suggests that Dahari continues the momentum by creating a school to train young people in agriculture. Nasuiati wants people to consider the farming profession as a real job, where it is necessary to be serious and to train continuously in order to succeed. Puséni calls everyone to be part of this dynamic, “because it is exchanges and discussions that help a community to grow: we need everyone.” Kamlati is aware of the many benefits she received and invites people to work to get the same rewards.
In short, this development can benefit everyone if they have the desire and the ambition to learn how to improve agriculture on Anjouan .