Observations from Rwanda: December 16, 2019

View of RICA faculty housing, and a bit of Lake Kilimbi, from the front porch of our house. December 11, 2019.
We spent three weeks in the US in November, returning to the RICA campus November 28. That evening, and a couple of subsequent nights, we were greeted by bats in our house. This photo is our house being fumigated for bats on Saturday, November 30, 2019, followed by sealing of cracks and small openings in the roof. Fortunately we have been bat-free for a couple of weeks.
As part of their Practical Farming course, students in their first year spend several hours a week in the field. This first term students have been growing amaranth, watermelon, maize and French beans. Here students are weeding, fertilizing and mulching watermelon vines. December 6, 2019.
One interesting aspect of Rwanda is that decorative annual plants in much of the US are perennials in a tropical climate. Here Lantana camara becomes an invasive woody plant, with large Lantana bushes taking over areas of the RICA campus if left alone. November 2, 2019.
The second academic facility on the RICA campus is nearing completion. This is a complex of two buildings, both related to the mechanization and irrigation enterprise on campus. The building in the foreground, named Ifundi Hall (after the Fawn-breasted Waxbill) houses a classroom, the soils lab, offices, storage and workrooms. The second building is behind and not visible in this photo – Indonzi Hall (Cardinal Woodpecker), and is the farm shop. These buildings will be occupied and in use for Term 2, at the start of 2020. December 10, 2019.
Some aspects of construction continue around buildings that are occupied. This construction is walkways, terraces and bench seats adjacent to Muduha Hall (named after the Candelabra Tree, which is found across the RICA campus), our current home to RICA offices, a classroom, and the current location of the biology lab. December 6, 2019.
Currently without screens on windows, Muduha Hall has various occasional visitors. The classroom in Muduha was home for a time to this African Grey Hornbill. December 4, 2019.
This yellow-mantled weaver is on a papyrus stalk on the shore of Lake Kilimbi. December 14, 2019.
RICA is home to several hectares of mango orchards. December and January are mango harvest season. December 14, 2019.
RICA-grown mangos are used in the cafeteria for fruit and juice, as well as being sold to RICA staff. December 10, 2019.
Land is being converted from a construction zone to farmland around the four First Year Farm houses. Here deep ripping is loosening soil, prior to topsoil being returned to the site. Each First Year Farm will have around 2.5 ha of land for students to farm, including some in existing orange and mango groves. A portion of each farm will be drip irrigated. December 16, 2019.
The first ever final exam conducted at RICA, in Leadership 101, the morning of December 16, 2019. Finals for Term 1 finish December 18, with students leaving campus during the Holiday break. The first day of Term 2 classes is January 6, 2020.

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