Greetings and salutations,
The night before last, the power went out. We assumed it was because of the storm, and waited patiently for it to return. Living in the dark is kind of fun, for a while, right?
Accompanied by schoolteacher Julius, and Kirsten, Dor and I went for our first real meeting in the village of Chang on Sunday (Sundays are the best day to meet at the villages because people will not be working in the fields). It is so peaceful there, the meeting was calm and everyone listened so carefully to Kirsten’s introduction. We explained that the results of last year’s work helped identify which diseases were causing mortality in the guinea fowl (Newcastle, coccidia, various parasites, and infectious bursal disease [locally known as Gumboro]) and established the need for a health management program. Such a program requires a large enough cohort of birds of the same age (to get as close to North America’s ‘all-in all-out’ production as is possible here) so that birds can be vaccinated and dewormed at the appropriate stages. This creates a need for a breeding flock and hatchery, and we introduced these concepts as integral parts of the proposal, along with changes in husbandry (such as introducing semi-confinement housing and a feeding system).
With the help our contact Simon translating, the villagers of Chang welcomed Dor and I as we explained that we needed to meet with guinea fowl farmers as well as women’s groups. We were even able to set up meetings for this in the next few weeks, which we were really happy about.Looking at our schedule, it’s becoming clear that we really have only two months left to work and that time is bound to go by quickly.
That same afternoon, we picked up Priscilla (our mother hen at MOFA) and went to her village Charia to meet with the Farmer’s Co-op. We sat in on their meeting, and were amused by the hour-long attendance debacle (a much more rambunctious group than Chang) and then delivered our introduction again. We also were able to gather a lot of information on guinea fowl use and rearing (especially numbers) that we will pass on the Bruce for the proposal.
Most interestingly, we asked why are guinea fowl important? Why are they more valuable than chickens? Well! For a few reasons. Guinea fowl are a) tastier and b) more prestigious because they are wild birds and more difficult to raise. One would prepare guinea fowl for a guest, or a funeral, rather than chicken, and the birds themselves fetch a better price at market and are thus a valuable source of cashflow. Unfortunately, the members of the co-op reported mortality rates of 80-95% so it really drove home why we are here working with them.
Again, we were able to set up another meeting in Charia for the following week, to meet with the women so that we will be able to assess the gender equity aspect of the proposal. Valentine, our contact at Charia found us some guinea fowl to buy- and Priscilla kindly offered to prepare one for Dor and I at her house.
After a long day of meetings, Dor and I returned to a dark house. Still, no power. Here in Ghana, one buys credit for electricity, and it seemed that despite our earlier attempts to have more credit added, something had fallen through- such is life in Ghana! We called our landlord but nothing could be done on a Sunday night, so we enjoyed cooking by flashlight/candlelight. As fun as it is to play house in the dark, no power also means no fridge and no fans (and no computer for Jenna to finish up her proposal due June 1st) so on Monday afternoon when the fans started whirring again there may have been some cheering.
Monday was also a busy day for Dor and I, as we arranged to tag along with Dr. Shittu (veterinary officer at MOFA) on various on-farm visits. This Wednesday we are scheduled to head out at 5:30 am to assist with Newcastle vaccinations in nearby villages. We are very pleased that Dr. Shittu is so enthusiastic about immersing us in veterinary medicine Ghanaian style, and is also happy to share with us his extensive botanical knowledge. I’m sure we will gain some great experiences with him, so stay tuned for that!
During the afternoon, Kirsten and Kamal took Dor and I shopping for some cloth, which we then took to a local seamstress to have some dresses made- I am really excited to see how they turn out as I suspect a number of things may have been lost/gained/inverted in translation. Photos will surely ensue.
The only other news was the discovery of a place in Wa that sells chocolate! At last, life is complete. I have left my bar in the fridge so that while I sit here melting, it will hopefully be okay until I return home from Priscilla’s guinea fowl feast tonight.