Observations from Rwanda: November 3, 2019

Cattle and goats on the banks of Lake Kilimibi, October 26, 2019.
Construction workers arriving early on a foggy morning to work on the campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture – November 2, 2019.
Bananas in the market, October 27, 2019.
Fish eagle on a tree on the campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA), October 26, 2019.
Common bulbul on the RICA campus, October 26, 2019.
These buildings under construction on October 23, 2019, will be the first academic buildings used by RICA. Collectively these have been referred to as the Vegetable and Tree Fruit complex during construction. The three buildings in the complex have been given Kinyarwanda names after local flora and fauna: Inuma (Ring-necked Dove), Muduha (Candelabra Tree), and Rufunzo (Papyrus).
These two moths, found on the spine path through the RICA campus, each have wingspans of around 12 cm. October 30, 2019.
November 1, 2019, was the day students moved onto campus – a significant day in RICA’s history. These students are checking into their rooms in Ihema House (named after a lake in Akagera National Park), one of the First Year Farms.
Student government leaders were recognized during a swearing-in ceremony in the RICA cafeteria on November 2, 2019.
Sunflower near the RICA solar plant, early morning, November 2, 2019.
Fishermen on Lake Kilimbi early in the morning, October 6, 2019.

Observations from Rwanda: October 12, 2019

Fishermen working on Lake Kilimibi early in the morning, October 4, 2019.

Teresa and I moved onto the campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) on Sunday, September 29, 2019. Our home is in Burera House, named after a lake in northern Rwanda, east of Musanze. The current plan is for students and all instruction activities to move to the RICA campus the first of November.

These ten photographs document life on campus in the two weeks we’ve lived here.

Burera House, early evening, October 9, 2019.
Vervet monkeys, October 5, 2019. A troop of monkeys is often seen around campus, and they are not inhibited by our presence. These are looking at Teresa inside the house – an inverted zoo.
Black-headed bush shrikes, October 5, 2019.
Blue-breasted kingfisher, October 5, 2019.
In the orchard, October 5, 2019. Still working on identifying this bird.
Near the lake edge, bird on papyrus, October 5, 2019.
Dr. Fritz Elango, RICA Integrated Pest Management Lecturer, instructing students on scouting for cutworms. October 11, 2019.
RICA students inspecting maize plant stands after emergence, October 11, 2019. The RICA gatehouse at the main entrance is in the background.

Observations from Rwanda: September 22, 2019

Lake Kilimbi, July 18, 2019. View is from the north bank, towards the area of the RICA campus.

It has been several weeks since my last post – a packed, eventful period with many ‘firsts’ in the life of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). In mid-August, we realized there was a decent chance that not all facilities needed for instruction during Term 1 of the first year would be ready in time to begin classes in September. This readiness included assessment for accreditation by the Higher Education Council (HEC) of the Ministry of Education of Rwanda. Consequently, RICA explored options for a temporary facility to house and instruct the first cohort of students. The Higher Education Council visited our proposed site, the La Palisse Hotel in Nyamata (between Kigali and the RICA campus) on Sept. 3, 2019. On Sept. 4, 2019, the Ministry of Education granted RICA permission to begin operations, and submitted the proposal for accreditation to the Cabinet.

Friday, September 13, was the first All-Hands Meeting for RICA faculty and staff – a review of RICA’s progress the past few months, a look forward to the first term, and in-service training sessions to familiarize staff on various software platforms and other resources RICA will use to run the Institute.

Saturday, September 14, was the first Matriculation Ceremony for RICA. Students and their families were transported to the La Palisse Hotel in Nyamata from bus stations in Kigali. The Matriculation Ceremony was a formal induction of the first cohort of RICA students. Students families were bused back to Kigali that evening, and students spent their first night on campus.

Monday, September 16 began the first week of classes for RICA. The first class was ‘Practical Mathematics for Agriculture’. The week included three days in which students were bused to the RICA campus for their Practical Farming class field work, spending three hours each day in the field. The proximity of Nyamata to the RICA campus makes this practical, and this will be the weekly pattern until students move onto campus later this year. The week ended with a visit by the Minister of Agriculture to the RICA campus on Friday, September 20, to observe students working in the field, and speaking to a convocation of the students and staff that afternoon in Nyamata.

Richard Ferguson

RICA’s temporary campus – Block B of the La Palisse Hotel in Nyamata.
RICA’s first class, Practical Mathematics for Agriculture, September 16, 2019.
Students laying out field plots during their Practical Farming fieldwork, September 17, 2019.
Students preparing soil for planting, September 20, 2019.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana, addressing RICA students, faculty and staff, September 20, 2019. (Ministry of Agriculture photo).
View from the faculty housing area towards the First Year Farm housing, with on-going construction. Lake Kilimbi is in the background. September 17, 2019.
Bird of Paradise bloom in our apartment gardens, Kigali, September 1, 2019.
During the day it is common to see these lizards along the walks around our apartment in Kigali. It is less common for them to find their way into our apartment, though it happens on occasion. September 1, 2019.
Ross’s Turacao, near our apartment in Kigali, July 6, 2019.
Kigali Convention Center, from the street behind our apartment, August 24, 2019.

Observations from Rwanda: August 12, 2019

These fourteen photographs come from three areas of Rwanda, including our first visit to the west, Lake Kivu. The RICA campus is south of Kigali, though in the Eastern Province, as is Akagera National Park. Lake Kivu is in the Western Province. These photographs date from June through August, 2019.

The first photograph is again of Lake Kilimbi, where the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) is located.

Richard Ferguson

Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) campus under construction. View across Lake Kilimbi from the north shore. July 18, 2019.
Mechanization and Irrigation facility under construction, RICA campus. July 18, 2019.
RICA faculty reviewing layout of First Year Farm operations. July 12, 2019.
RICA Year 2-3 Dorm beginning construction. July 29, 2019.
Baboons, Akagera National Park. June 17, 2019.
Anhinga, Akagera National Park, June 16, 2019.
Lion, Akagera National Park, June 17, 2019.
Topi, Akagera National Park, June 16, 2019.
Hippos, Lake Ihema, Akagera National Park, June 16, 2019.
Zebra and giraffe, Akagera National Park, June 16, 2019.
Teresa and Ben Ferguson, Akagera National Park, June 16, 2019.
Lake Kivu near Kibuye, August 3, 2019.
Lake Kivu near Kibuye, August 3, 2019.
RICA Cohort 1, Academic Training Program completion in Kigali, University of Rwanda campus, August 9, 2019.

Observations from Rwanda: July 28, 2019

These 14 photographs range from April to July 2019. As in previous posts, the first photograph is of Lake Kilimbi, adjacent to the campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA).

Richard Ferguson

Lake Kilimbi, from the Extension road entrance to the RICA campus. Crews are watering recently established landscaping plants on road embankments. July 18, 2019.
First Year Farm house on the RICA campus, April 5, 2019. There are four First Year Farms on campus, each housing 21 students during their first year. The structure in front of the house is a partially completed barn for housing livestock, supplies and equipment.
Faculty housing, studio apartments, RICA campus, June 15, 2019. Teresa and Ben Ferguson in photo.
Crew watering landscaping plants on roadside embankments, RICA campus, July 18, 2019.
Elephant, Akagera National Park, March 2, 2019. After three separate charges at the truck, he finally wandered off the road and let us pass.
Hippo, Akagera National Park, March 2, 2019.
Malachite Kingfisher, Akagera National Park, June 16, 2019.
African Buffalo, Akagera National Park, June 16, 2019.
Surveying recently planted soybean, Nasho Irrigation Project, July 26, 2019. Dr. Magnifique Nzaramba on left, Dr. Kofi Boa on right. Soybeans are hand-planted in rows, watered with a center pivot irrigation system. There are 34 farmer’s fields under this pivot. This farmer has also hand weeded in the last two days.
Termite mound in soybean field, Nasho Irrigation Project, July 26, 2019. Termites can rapidly break down crop residues, and weaken stalks of mature plants prior to harvest.
Observing nodule formation on soybean roots following inoculation of a field area with Rhizobia bacteria, Nasho Irrigation Project, July 26, 2019. Soybean is commonly produced without inoculation, substantially limiting production. Dr. Magnifique Nzaramba, RICA Deputy Vice Chancellor for Extension and Applied Research on left, and Dr. Kofi Boa, Executive Director of the Centre for No-Till Agriculture, Ghana on right, with a Nasho model farmer, center.
Harvesting, threshing, and cleaning soybean by hand, Nasho Irrigation Project, July 26, 2019.
Soybean threshing, Nasho Irrigation Project, July 26, 2019. Soybean plants are removed from the field, stacked on a tarp, then beaten with a stick to knock beans out of the pods.
Soybean winnowing by hand, Nasho Irrigation Project, July 26, 2019. After separation of chaff from soybeans, they are cleaned by hand before being placed into 120 kg bags for transport from the field.

Observations from Rwanda: July 21, 2019

These eleven photographs illustrate a range of observations between February and July 2019. Lake Kilimbi is located in south-central Rwanda, one of a series of lakes which contribute to the Nile River. The Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) is located adjacent to Lake Kilimbi.

Richard Ferguson

North side of Lake Kilimbi, July 18, 2019. The Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) campus is located on the south shore of Lake Kilimbi.
Tour de Rwanda, March 1, 2019.
Variable sunbird, in the garden of my apartment, February 3, 2019.
Main entrance road into the RICA campus, April 7, 2019. Plants in drainage swales and road banks are propagated on site, then planted by hand.
Breaking stones for construction of drainage way dams, RICA campus, April 7, 2019.
Construction of the RICA vegetable and tree fruit enterprise buildings, April 7, 2019
Construction of RICA faculty housing buildings, April 7, 2019.
Rwanda Parliament building, from KG 13 Avenue, in the Nyarutarama neighborhood, April 17, 2019.
African openbill, along RN 3 Highway east of Kigali, March 24, 2019.
Waterbuck, Akagera National Park, March 2, 2019.
Grey crowned cranes, Akagera National Park, March 2, 2019. Nesting habitat for these cranes is found on the RICA campus.

Observations from Rwanda

These are observations – mostly as photographs – since arriving to live in Rwanda in January 2019. Some of these views are associated with Lake Kilimbi, on whose banks are located the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). Lake Kilimbi is in Rwanda’s Eastern Province, Bugesera District.

Richard Ferguson


North side of Lake Kilimbi, across from the RICA campus. July 18, 2019
Tour De Rwanda. March 1, 2019
RICA campus, main entrance road, April 7, 2019. Plants along drainage swales and roadside banks are propagated on site, then planted by hand.
Construction of RICA vegetable and tree fruit enterprise facilities, April 7, 2019.
Single family faculty house under construction, RICA campus. April 7, 2019.
Breaking stones for construction of drainage swale dams, RICA campus, April 7, 2019.
Rwanda Parliament building, from KG 13 Avenue in Kigali; in the Nyarutarama neighborhood where we live while Phase 1 of RICA campus construction is underway.
Variable sunbird, in my apartment garden. February 3, 2019.
African openbill, along RN 3 Highway, east of Kigali, March 24, 2019.
Waterbuck, Akagera National Park, March 2, 2019.
Grey crowned cranes, Akagera National Park, March 2, 2019. The RICA campus contains nesting habitat for these cranes.