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Monday, September 13, 2010

Bringing moringa to Battorkope

Submitted by Matt Porter

On the 8th of September, Captain Yaw and myself, Matthew, took a trip to Battorkope in the amphibian to take moringa oleifera seeds to the village and explain to some of the farmers there how to use it. We have about 250 seeds there - enough to get started with some moringa trees to get their own seed going. Moringa oleifera is a tree that has very nutritious leaves, and the seeds can be used to help purify water by acting as a flocculent (settling the debris) - it does well in the tropics and poor soils with little water, and with enough seeds, one can produce a LOT of leaf by growing it intensely as a vegetable. Our plan for it for Battorkope is to help them help themselves to use it to combat malnutrition and, if necessary, for water purification as well.

This is my first trip in the amphibian, so it was quite interesting. here we are approaching Battorkope. Funny to be told we are on finals whilst still over the water! You can see the runway that has been put in by the community by hand. Also you can see that there are a lot of trees around the village - which is nice, not all been turned into charcoal, which is a common activity this time of year.

Splashdown! For some reason, I was surprised that landing on water felt quite hard! Like landing on solid ground - but pretty smooth, a few intimidating trees sticking out in various spots, but there are buoys in the water to mark taxi ways.

The water level has really risen a lot in the past few weeks with heavy rains up north, and this can be seen even here - the level has risen about 80m inland, swallowing up the farms. This happens every year, but more so this year. So our docking/beaching point was a little displaced - but the people still found us!

The village are used to the sequence now - but this was still new to me - so after landing, we all go off to the church hall to meet. I am up front starting my talk about moringa - this day I was doing an introduction of it - explaining the importance of it from a nutritional point of view - high in most vitamins, a lot of minerals - and the cultivation. This are mostly farmers, and should have no trouble in growing it - they will be planting them 3 metres apart, and i have recommended that they use them as windbreaks on their farms, leaving the rest of the space for other crops this year. Within a year they should all have seed. The people were interested, and had heard of moringa - even one man, Daniel, has a few trees already! This did not surprise me - in the past 5years moringa has sprung up all over the place - but, as in Battorkope, few people know the real benefits of it, often having heard various tales bordering on folklore. So this was very important.

Here you can see the farmers who will be planting the seeds on the left, and the rest of the people on the right. On the table are the seeds that we explained to them how to cultivate and you can also see the leaves there Daniel bought out from his tree to help a bit with explaining the importance of the leaves!
We will come back in a few months to check up on how the trees are doing. If the goats don't eat them, they should get to about 4-5 feet in three months.

The farmers with their seed. Daniel is there on the right, the chiefs are behind them sitting.

Here we can see Daniel in his garden with his moringa trees and family. I hope that he can be of use to the other farmers if they need any advice in the cultivation over the next few months!

And having done all of this in less than two hours, back to the river with the village, before the weather builds up and the swell rises, Captain Yaw is doing his pre-flight checks - including checking inside the floats for water! They are Kevlar reinforced, but just in case!

Here, on climb out from Battorkope, you can actually see the wake from our take-off...Look carefully!

On our way back to Kpong field, we flew over this... So, a very interesting mission indeed, I think it went down very well - we will find out in a few months, but if taken seriously, this could really help Battorkope's general health!

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