Monday, December 7, 2009

Seed Storage Facility Update

I thought I’d expand a bit on what this seed storage facility will look like physically and how it will be run. So read on if you’re curious and want to learn more about this important structure. :) Even if you’re not curious, check out this website and consider donating (any amount makes a difference!) because we’d like to have all the money in the next couple months so we can begin construction on this building before the rainy season:

The building itself will be very basic – a rectangular cement building with a metal roof and cement floor, and doors with locks that are big enough so charettes can go in the building. Inside the building itself will be big barrels in which the seed will be stored. The main types of seed that will be stored in the building are rice, corn, cowpeas, millet, and sorghum, but other types of seed could also be stored there, such as vegetable and (fruit and non-fruit) tree seeds. Seeing as there will most likely be a few varieties of each kind of seed stored in the building (such as several varieties of rice and corn), the barrels will be labeled with the variety name as well as the kind of seed itself so different varieties don’t get mixed together. This type of building is very common throughout Senegal and Africa in general, so it is nothing complex or complicated to build and maintain.

A couple people will have copies of the keys to the locks on the doors. These same people will be the ones in charge of keeping the facility organized and run smoothly. These people have yet to be determined – they will be chosen democratically through PENC-MI, and will most likely be “paid” for their time and energy in seed. For example, they will be able to get improved seed varieties for free, though this also has yet to be formally determined. PENC-MI is the name of Kayemor’s “Communauté Rurale,” which is the community group that has been organizing this whole facility. Its headquarters are in Kayemor, but there are representatives from all the surrounding villages (upwards of 20+ villages) – one representative from each village (either male or female) except for a handful of the bigger villages, which have 2 representatives (one male and one female). Around 35 people in PENC-MI are directly involved in the design and implementation of this facility, and around 200 people will be impacted by the facility. (Wikipedia has a short snippet on these community groups, which are extremely common in Senegal, though the snippet is not very complete at all – it doesn’t even list Kayemor’s group, which is in the Nioro du Rip Department and Kaolack Region: Since this facility is being funded through a Peace Corps Partnership, the Peace Corps will also be monitoring the construction, implementation, and improvement of the facility. I will do most of the day-to-day monitoring (which shouldn’t involve too much since part of the plan of the project/facility is to train the local men and women involved so they will be as self-sufficient as possible), and will direct questions or problems to my boss in the Peace Corps.

As part of the Peace Corps Partnership application process, Kate (the PCV in Kayemor before me) filled out a form with the help of the leaders in PENC-MI. Here is some information from the form that I thought other people might find interesting:
- There are 12 employees of PENC-MI, 46 village relays (i.e. the representatives to PENC-MI from Kayemor and the villages around Kayemor), and 200 farmers involved in the PENC-MI seed extension program
- Employees and replays will learn to manage a seed production program with record keeping, contract making, and payment practices
- PENC-MI employees will also learn how to determine when seed is no longer viable and how to obtain seed from local sources.
- Farmers will learn the technical skills in supplying their own seed by learning to select and store seed for current crops. They will increase their agricultural knowledge by learning to grow and store new crops.
- Success of the facility will be determined, in part, by 1) the number of farmers who reimburse the seed extended to them by PENC-MI, 2) the growth of the seed production program into numerous types of seed, and 3) the continuation of the project and facility after Peace Corps has left the area.

The building will be located behind the “peñc mi” (yes, the same word as the name of the rural community group; it literally means “public place” and is the area where teachers live, classes are held for school, community meetings are held, etc.). It is a good location because it is right next to the main road through Kayemor, and because it is in Kayemor itself, which is surrounded by many smaller villages and the people in these villages often come to Kayemor regularly to sell and buy things so it won’t be difficult for people to bring their seed to the building in Kayemor to store it. Here are a few photos to help orient you to where the building will be built – sorry they’re not more exciting, but right now it’s just empty land…

The metal posts along the left side of this photo mark the northern border of the peñc mi land, so the building will be built to the right (south) of the posts. The bigger trees in the background may need to be cut down for easier construction.

This is a picture of essentially the same area, but looking south. The building in the back is a class used for school and meetings. The seed storage facility will be built between where I am standing (when I took the photo) and where that classroom is.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Danielle! My aunt Sue in Germany told our family about your adventures and pointed us to your blog. We wanted to wish you a wonderful time and much success. I also wanted to let you know my brother David is doing all charitable gifts for Christmas this year, so I decided to donate to your Seed Project as my gift for him. It's not much, but hope it can help.
    --Heather (Hulsen) Klaus