(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
In its mission to share its extensive agricultural knowledge and experience with third world countries, KKL-JNF, with the support of KKL-JNF Switzerland, in Geneva, and ERI, an international banking software company, has established agricultural plots, greenhouses and twenty modern honey-producing beehives at the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) in Rwanda.
ASYV was established by the Joint Distributory Committee (JDC) in 2008, in order to provide a home for 500 children and youth, who lost their parents in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. In the course of only 100 days, 800,000 people were killed, almost 1.2 million children were orphaned, and an entire country was left in ruins.
The Agahozo Shalom Youth Village (Agahozo means 'a place where tears are dried' in the Rwandan language) is situated on a 145-acre (58-hectare) site overlooking Lake Mugesera in Rwanda's Eastern Province. Each year, a class of 125 students graduates from the village high school. The young people who come to live and learn in the ASYV will hopefully grow into healthy adults who are able to care for themselves and their families, and are also committed to making their community and their country a better place.
KKL-JNF will use the agricultural plots, greenhouses and bee-hives to train hundreds of young survivors of massacres, in various agricultural professions. Once trained, the Village residents will be able use their new farming expertise to support themselves and will also acquire practical tools that will stand them in good stead when they return to their native villages, helping them to promote agriculture and stamp out poverty.
KKL-JNF is helping ASYV upgrade its honey-producing methods. The traditional beehives used in the Rwandan honey-producing industry yield about 7 kilograms of honey, whereas modern methods almost treble this figure. As part of its practical help for the orphans at ASYV, KKL-JNF has so far built twenty modern beehives near the village, and has established an apiary and a plant nursery, which produces special seedlings that are loaded with nectar and pollen. The project focuses on the production of organic honey, an ideal approach from an ecological and commercial standpoint. The project is approved by Rwanda's Ministry of Natural Resources and is being implemented in cooperation with local experts.
As part of its broader vision, KKL-JNF hopes to see the honey producing industry in Rwanda upgraded as a whole, as these children are encouraged to share the new tools and knowledge they have acquired upon their return to their villages of origin.
“By establishing plant nurseries and training the youngsters at the Village, we are giving them tools to cope and helping them to support themselves with dignity in the future,” says Efi Stenzler, KKL-JNF World Chairman.
The agricultural plots were set up after extensive research on the part of KKL-JNF. An initial delegation of KKL-JNF staff visited Rwanda, examining soil and environmental conditions and working out which species will be suitable for cultivation at the farm. The list of agricultural skills offered include the study of cultivation and acclimation methods for different types of fruit tree, including avocado, mango, passion fruit and plum; genetic conservation of the exotic species of fruit native to Rwanda; cultivation of stands of trees for use as fuel for cooking or heating to reduce felling in the forests; and the introduction of beehives for the production of different types of honey from the trees and shrubs planted at the farm, for both local and commercial use.
KKL-JNF has also collected specimens of all species of fruit and forest tree found in Rwanda and has devoted one of the farm’s plots to their genetic preservation. This will not only prevent these trees from dying out but will also providing a livelihood and, in addition, will contribute to the cultural conservation of the local nature and landscape.
Efi Stenzler, KKL-JNF World Chairman, said: “KKL-JNF, as a non-governmental organization, places emphasis on pioneering breakthroughs in the management of open areas and woodland, in combating desertification, and in land and water conservation, and it maintains research and international cooperation networks to this end. This delegation is just one example among many of the exportation of expertise and know-how to other countries and organizations throughout the world. The most outstanding example of international collaboration is the long-standing relationship with the US Forest Service and the International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC). KKL-JNF also exports its varied types of expertise to a many countries, one example being the delegation that visited Indonesia last March to advise on optimal management of water resources, prevention of erosion, land conservation measures, woodland health and the acclimation of trees for use in commercial orchards. Many delegations of experts in forestry, combating desertification and erosion prevention have visited countries such as Nigeria, Paraguay, Chile, Indonesia and Mexico, while numerous other delegations come to Israel to learn and observe innovative developments and methods at first hand.”
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