We are a few days off our target commencement of 15th September but still, given all that has/is/will be happening, we haven’t done too badly. The key task as we commence our field operations is to figure out how we will get the primary training and inputs to the farmers with the logistics still sluggish despite the country opening up a bit. Our design strategy of creating cluster groups is still valid and therefore our field teams went right into the fray, meeting the people under the best possible safety conditions and creating each 25 family cluster comprising of five groups of five families each. The whole process of engagement and monitoring will be based on the performance of these mutually supportive groups and clusters. We will be watching their performance and capabilities during and after the treatment phase and into the action phase of converting to natural farming techniques. A farming cluster will yield up a leader and the leaders of the clusters of each village will form the Village Level Microenterprise Association (VLMA) leadership. These will eventually feed the River Basin Microenterprise Association (RBMA) which will be the body that will engage with the external world in marketing produce and products of the COLIBRI initiative.
It was by no means an easy task especially with the terrain being what it is and some of our field staff had to camp out in areas such as Galamuduna to complete some of the engagement tasks because of the sheer inaccessibility of these settlements. To hear our teams speak, “underserved” acquired a new meaning in these locations. Basic, early day stuff of course but we are heartened by the response of the communities.