So far Shimabila has planted two hundred guava trees, six lemon trees, and 12 improved variety orange trees which have been grafted onto lemon root stock which will increase the success of the trees to survive drought and poor soil. The oranges are called Delta and are large and seedless which will bring in income, offer food security, and the branches can be grafted to lemon root stock then sold in the market for a good price.
My job has been locating sources of trees that are affordable for farmers. The guavas and lemons were free and the oranges were sold at a discounted price. I hope to help the village obtain other kinds of trees not only for food, but for timber, firewood, nitrogen fixing soil, and several other uses. I research trees that grow well in the area and how they can be used for individual use and for profit.
Another goal of the project is to create and manage a tree nursery which can supply the village and surrounding villages large variety of tree seeds and seedlings to be sold or to be given to people in need.
Much of Zambia is suffering from deforestation. Northwest Zambia is still well-forested, but the trees are being cut down at an alarming rate. We need to make up for it before deforestation becomes a big problem so creating sustainable means to supplying trees without relying on outside sources will be a key to success. One of the challenges northwest Zambia is facing is growth in population due to refugees settling from bordering countries, including Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo and the westward movement of mines. The people who are immigrating for these reasons tax the resources and the mines are taking over hundreds of acres of open space so tree planting is very important to make up for the loss of trees.
Not only are we encouraging the planting of trees for food and income, but we also aim to educate about the importance of trees and how to take care of them. For many villagers in rural Zambia in northwest province they see there are plenty of trees, but fail to comprehend that if trees aren't replanted they will suffer devastating effects of deforestation which contributes to climate change. Education is very important to ensure the natural resources in this country are preserved.
I will keep everyone updated on the progress of this project. I hope the enthusiasm of the villagers continues the momentum in which the project is moving.
Other than the work I've been doing I am doing well and continue to enjoy my time here in Zambia. I have a year left in my service so I have a lot of planning to do to make sure I get as much work done as possible and see as much of this part of Africa as I can. I am continuing to improve my hut: I built a couch in my sitting room, had a ton of gravel (free) delivered and created gravel paths around my site to avoid walking through mud, and I am trying to grow a variety of herbs in my garden. The local children continue to visit me daily and I spend time with them playing games and teaching them to write their names.
Life is wonderful here in Zambia. Miss you all!