It has been far too long since I have given an update on my blog. I am going to try and start doing shorter posts on a weekly/biweekly basis. Today's post is dedicated to the avocado project that I have been working on at the school for last year. We have nearly completed planting the 1500 avocado trees, 500 apple trees, 200 peach trees, and around 70 pear trees.
There are over 600 students at Philip Mangula Secondary School. This project is aimed a curbing nutritional deficiencies in students' diet by making fruits readily available. As many of my fellow volunteers know, any fruit trees present at schools are picked clean before the fruits are even ripe. The students have a craving and need for the essential nutrients that fruits provide during development.There is not, however, enough supply to meet the need. In addition, eating the unripe fruits can cause gastrointestinal illness. In the next four years, the avocado trees will be in full production of fruit, providing much needed protein and nutrients to our students who currently eat a largely starch-based diet.
Another aspect of this project is to give students vocational training in tree propagation and land management. Planting avocado trees can be lucrative to farmers, but many lack education in grafting and planting techniques. Our school is trying to equip students to be self-sufficient in entrepreneurial/conservation activities like this once they leave our campus.
The following pictures show the progress of the project:
|Frame of the greenhouse used for growing the avocado seedlings.|
|Putting the clear plastic on. The total cost of making this small green-house was about $7.|
|After the pits have started to germinate, they are placed into tubes with a mixture of manure and forest soil. The tubes are placed into the greenhouse for 2-3 months.|
|Students learning how to graft an avocado seedling with a clipping from a producing tree. My friend, Willie, is the resident expert in our village.|
The picture at left shows the preparation of the mature clipping using a razor blade. A wedge is made on the bottom portion of the clipping. A slit is made in the center of the seedling trunk. The mature clipping is then attached and the wound is allowed to heal for 2-3 months (right).
|Trees are ready for planting. Oh, who is that there? My twin, Elliot, came to visit during the end of last year|
While all of these activities were going on, the site of the orchard was prepared. This included clearing bush and preparing the 1.5 meter x 1.5 meter deep holes for the trees. The soil at my site is very poor. To help the avocado trees grow quickly and healthily, large holes are prepared and filled with grasses and other organic debris. A mixture of manure and soil is used to fill the rest of the hole. Over the course of the rainy season, the organic matter below will begin to compost and will retain moisture that the tree will use during the dry season.
|Discussing one of the holes for the avocado trees. This one looks to be a little small.|
|Students helping to collect over 25 tonnes of manure used in this project.|
|Planted seedling after nearly eight months of preparations.|
Many thanks go out to all the donors and supporters who have helped to make this project happen. In addition, I would like to thank the students of Philip Mangula Secondary School, the teaching staff, and my counterpart for the many hours of planning and implementation that have gone into this so far. They are heroes to me. The full implementation of the project is not yet complete, but more updates will be coming soon!