Master Farm Open Field Day Assessment

Master Farm: Katakel, Kaffrine Region
Master Farmer: Fatou Willane
PCVs: Lorraine Perricone – Dazzo
           Sarah Ferguson
Date of Open Field Day Event: October 6, 2012
The Master Farm of Fatou Willane held an Open Field Day event on October 6th , 2012. Guests arrived throughout the morning but during the tour of the field and the subsequent discussion there were 75 local community farmers in attendance. The objective of the day was to present, to interested farmers, five field crop demonstrations implementing three techniques; Conservation Agriculture (CA), System of Rice Intensification (SRI), and Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The event was designed to create a forum for the discussion of local farming practices and to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and support amongst farmers living in the same community.
The day commences at 9:30AM with breakfast and an informal discussion between the Master Farmer, her family, the PCVs and guests. At 10:30AM the guests represented a large amount of the surrounding community so Master Farmer Fatou Willane , her son Mamort Drame, and APCD Famara Massaly began a presentation of the improved techniques demonstrated throughout the field. These included demo plots of each local field crop; corn, millet, sorghum, rice, and beans. Grafted fruit trees and live fencing techniques were also presented. Conservation farming methods which stress the importance of organic matter additions and ground cover were shown in plots of corn, millet, and sorghum. Integrated Pest Management was displayed in several plots of beans with physical pest control in the form of yellow sticky traps and chemical control in the form of a neem oil regimen. The rice demonstration plot showed the improved tillering and fruiting of rice under the SRI principle of thinning to one seedling per hill at the two leaf stage.
Mamort Drame discusses SRI                  MF Fatou Willane                        Oman Ndao of Trees for the Future               Mamort Drame shares his
                                                                        and Local farmers                        shows off a beautiful grafted JuJube           Knowledge to the group.
Around 11:30AM the group gathered in the shade where the Master Farmer fielded any questions which led to a broad discussion on farming in this area, south of Kaffrine. Various topics were discussed including rice production, stryga control, protecting crops from animal damage, and the importance of interspersed trees in fields. Farmers shared ideas, complaints, knowledge and questions. The event ended after lunch and the guests had completely dispersed by 4pm.
Master Farmer Fatou Willane enjoyed the event and has reported an increase in community members visiting her field. She believes the day of discussion helped inform the community about the goals and functions of the program. Her criticism is that it was held late in the season so some of her crops were over ripe. She would, in the future, prefer and earlier date so she could have harvested on time. Both Fatou and I enjoyed the process of implementing techniques we hadn’t before, and the opportunity to share our experience and findings.
The day itself went smoothly and I believe valuable knowledge was exchanged amongst farmers. Forums, such as what was held at the open field day, are the key to community development. I felt a great sense of pride toward my local work partners during the talk. Although I felt everything discussed was valuable and all attendees listened and learned, the talking itself was done by a core group while others gave only cursory additions to the exchange. The next time I assist in hosting such an event I will be sure to derive the seating arrangement such that all attendees feel included. I may gently demand questions or comments from the female attendees since despite their great number and undivided attention, hardly spoke up.
Through follow up discussion with attendees I have ascertained that the community is excited about trying the techniques displayed at the events, especially neem oil and SRI. Two informants told me they hope to try cropping rice next year despite never having grown it before. I will continue to follow up with attendees to answer questions and assist with the adoption of any technique they saw at the Master Farm. I have already encouraged those with questions to seek the counsel of Fatou herself or her well informed sons.
The goals of the planned event were achieved, but as the Master Farm continues to be established as a fixture in the community, events such as these will gain momentum and value in their outcomes. This farmer centered development program will grow along with the community it is integrally a part of. 

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