The Manda Wilderness Agricultural Project (MWAP) is located in one of the most genuinely remote regions of Africa and much of the area remains pristine wilderness. The Manda Wilderness Agricultural Project depends on preserving this paradise while providing a greater range of opportunities for farmers keen to expand their income and nutritional benefits for their families.
Over the last decade, the project has established a good relationship with the surrounding sixteen villages that lie within the Manda Wilderness region. The project serves as a demonstration and training centre, with the aim of spreading more ecologically sustainable agricultural in the region. The project staff is a small cohesive and skilled team with John Manyamba, the Manager, heading up the team. John received his Permaculture Design Certificate in March 2012 and more recently, Hilda Kang'oma, Assistant Manager, became the first local woman in the Manda Wilderness region to be permaculture qualified.
The project has been in operation since 2002 and has assisted over 400 local farmers to:
The sustainable agriculture methods, spearheaded by the project, now take place in many of the sixteen Manda Wilderness communities in the region. Recent training has taken place as far north as Ngofi, not far from the border with Tanzania; the training hosted over 30 enthusiastic participants who now boast a cohesive agricultural group. Fifty-six vegetable gardens have been established after beneficiaries received training in the importance of soil conservation, natural pest control, plant care, improved irrigation methods and sustainable methods of farming.
Harvest in the region has produced a large variety of crops, including the introduction of sunflowers, and has improved nutrition and income for the villages involved. In an area where subsistence farming is virtually the only means of survival, the objective of the project remains the same: to encourage farmers to grow surplus produce to sell to Nkwichi Lodge and other local markets in the area and to teach the importance of sustainable agricultural practices in the region. This has been partially achieved, but due to poor soil and, in some areas, the chemical composition of the water from the lake not complementing the soil composition, individual farms have not always been able to meet the increasing demands.
Prior to the establishment of the Manda Wilderness Agricultural Project as a demonstration farm, agricultural and horticultural training in the community has taken place on small garden plots in individual villages. However, due to the increasing success of the project, it was decided that MWAP would establish a demonstration farm to act as an additional teaching tool in training local farmers to build and expand on the knowledge and successes already achieved.
With a very generous donation from The Dawe Charitable Trust, Cambridge, UK, the MWAP initially received funding for a three year programme, providing the stability for the project to continue and expand. The Project is currently in search of long-term funding.
The demonstration farm, complete with overnight accommodation for agricultural training participants, enables training to become more thorough, diversified, and to embrace other areas of knowledge such as small scale livestock production, bee keeping, fish farming, processing of fresh produce, and local arts and crafts. The agricultural project offers hands-on training to communities who wish to learn more about specific crops and activities without risking their own land, capital, or labour. These are often some of the largest concerns troubling farmers who are willing to consider introducing new production methods.
Training rural agrarian villagers with limited educational opportunities is most effective when incorporating hands-on activities and locally relevant information, showing improved results with concrete benefits and measurable results. While being a vital and practical tool in training and development in the area, the project also demonstrates the benefits of selling fresh produce not currently produced by local communities, as well as locally made crafts.