Observations from Rwanda: October 16, 2022

The campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) in the background, looking across Lake Kilimbi from the road leading to Kayovu, the village across the lake. September marked the first time that RICA was at capacity for students, with approximately 250 students on campus. September 12 was the first day of classes for the 2022-2023 academic year. This photo was taken September 25, 2022.
RICA students and staff spent Umuganda Saturday in September (day of community service) picking up trash along RICA roads and helping with construction in the neighboring village of Kayovu. Here RICA students and staff help make mud bricks for house construction. September 24, 2022.
These kids helped pick up trash during Umuganda in Kayovu, then wanted their picture taken afterward. September 24, 2022.
Incoming RICA students during orientation on campus. August 31, 2022.
Some of RICA’s faculty following the Matriculation Ceremony for incoming students. September 9, 2022.
Newly planted maize plants emerging on one of RICA’s center pivot-irrigated fields for Season A, which will be harvested in January. September 17, 2022.
A RICA staff member working in the shop. September 28, 2022.
Dr. Chane, RICA’s biology lecturer, explaining the process of completing a lab notebook to 1st year students. September 22, 2022.
A family heads to the field on the road past RICA fields. September 17, 2022.
Casual laborers (hired by the day) weed one of RICA’s maize fields. October 6, 2022.
RICA 1st year students, with faculty direction, harvest maize planted by students in Practical Farming class last term. September 28, 2022.
A Marabou Stork in one of RICA’s fields. This is a very large bird, standing about 5 ft tall. September 30, 2022.
Watering RICA’s latest maize crop. October 2, 2022.
Scarecrow in a field of watermelon across Lake Gaharwa from RICA. October 15, 2022.
Second-year students, along with Crispin Kabeja, RICA Precision Agriculture Lecturer, grid soil sample a field using GPS receivers. October 6, 2022.
RICA’s mostly complete central campus, taken from a center pivot-irrigated maize field looking east. October 15, 2022.

Observations from Rwanda: September 25, 2022

The majority of the month of August was a break between academic years at the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). Consequently, most students were away from campus, and the academic calendar took a break as well. In mid-August to early September Teresa and I welcomed our family for a visit, and we spent a couple of weeks touring around Rwanda as well as on the RICA campus. This photo is from Rusizi, looking across the southern end of Lake Kivu towards Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). August 23, 2022.
Our family on a boat trip to Peace Island, Lake Kivu: Ryan, Alison, Teresa, Ben, Asher and Alice. August 23, 2022.
Lions in Akagera National Park. August 19, 2022.
Three White Rhinoceros in Akagera National Park. August 19, 2022.
Egyptian Geese – Akagera National Park. August 19, 2022.
Giraffe with Yellow-Billed Oxpeckers. August 19, 2022.
Teresa on the Nyungwe National Park Canopy Walk. August 22, 2022.
Asher and Ben – ready for the Canopy Walk trek. Nyungwe National Park. August 22, 2022.

Blue Monkey – Nyungwe National Park. August 22, 2022.
Great Blue Turaco. Nyungwe National Park. August 22, 2022.
Ferns in Nyungwe National Park. August 22, 2022.
Picking tea leaves. On the edge of Nyungwe National Park. August 22, 2022.
Colobus Monkey, Nyungwe National Park. August 22, 2022.
Regal Sunbird (?). Musanze, August 24, 2022.
Asher Ferguson – RICA campus. August 28, 2022.

Observations from Rwanda: August 14, 2022

Thursday, August 11, was the last day of final exams for students at the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). This completed the last term of the academic year, and students departed campus for a well-earned break of about one month. These students are taking an exam evaluating plant disease symptoms as part of the specialization course Plant Health and Integrated Pest Management.
During the week preceding final exams, students wrapped up field responsibilities in several classes. Here students in the Practical Farming class weed carrots. During the term break, some students will remain on campus to care for livestock and crops, and food processing. August 5, 2022.
Dr. Fritz Elango, RICA’s IPM Professor (green shirt), retires at the end of August. Here he advises his successor as Practical Farming coordinator, John Bosco Talemwa, RICA’s Mechanization Lecturer. August 5, 2022.
During the last week of each class, RICA students provide an evaluation of the course for their instructors. Here students provide input on the course Genetics and Breeding, which covers both plants and animals. August 3, 2022.
Workers harvesting peat in the Akanyaru River valley west of RICA, laying the harvested peat out to dry. I understand it is burned for electricity generation. July 17, 2022.
Workers spread peat to dry. Akanyaru River valley. July 17, 2022.
Boys transporting recently harvested cattle feed. Akanyaru River valley, July 17, 2022.
Workers bagging lime from an exposed limestone vein – Akanyaru River valley, July 17, 2022.
Fisherman in a dugout canoe, Akanyaru River valley, July 17, 2022.
Worker picking maize from one of RICA’s center-pivot irrigated fields. July 21, 2022.
Shelling and cleaning maize in a RICA field. July 21, 2022.
Winnowing maize grain after shelling to remove chaff. The tractor and mower in the background are used shred stalks after harvest to leave crop residue in the field. to July 21, 2022.
The final step – visual inspection and cleaning of grain before bagging for transport. July 21, 2022.
Picking, shelling and cleaning maize from RICA’s irrigated fields. July 21, 2022.
Lesser Striped Swallow, RICA campus. July 17, 2022.
Juvenile Sacred Ibis, Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park, Kigali. August 6, 2022.
Erythrina blooms, Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park, Kigali. August 6, 2022.
Yellow-Billed Storks, Gashora Wetland Bird Watching Spot near the Nyabarongo River. August 7, 2022.

Observations from Rwanda: July 20, 2022

The Campus Center of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) at sunrise, with Lake Kilimbi in the background. Note that many trees have few leaves at this point during the dry season, which extends from May into September. June 30, 2022.
RICA laborers harvesting soybean by hand, with the campus in the background. June 29, 2022.
RICA laborers cut soybean plants with a hand sickle, then carry bundles of plants to the wagon for transport to the threshing location. July 4, 2022.
Threshing soybeans – the only equipment needed is a tarp and a stick. RICA’s campus and Lake Kilimbi are in the background. July 4, 2022.
Casual laborers threshing and winnowing soybeans. The process of harvesting and threshing by hand is labor-intensive! July 4, 2022.
RICA students learning to drive a tractor – in this case a prototype electric tractor. June 29, 2022.
Construction workers melting tar for the process of roof construction of new housing units. June 28, 2022.
Young man fishing on Lake Kilimbi. June 26, 2022.
Mowing RICA’s new football field. Indonzi and Ifundi Halls are in the background. These contain the farm shop, mechanization lab, soils teaching lab, and a classroom. July 4, 2022.
An Auger Buzzard resting on a Candelabra Tree. July 4, 2022.
A Black-headed Gonolek in Umusambi Village, a wetland area and crane sanctuary east of Kigali. July 1, 2022.
A Red-chested Sunbird in Umusambi Village. July 1, 2022.

Observations from Rwanda: June 19, 2022

View of Lake Kilimbi from the campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). Buildings in the foreground (left to right) are a classroom and office, pesticide storage and handling facility, and the grain and feed center. This view is changing now, as grain bins, grain handling equipment, and feed production equipment are being installed at the feed center. May 2, 2022.
Another view of Lake Kilimbi from the RICA campus. Occasionally “islands” such as this will show up in the lake, then be gone the next day. These are floating mats of papyrus plants, which move about the lake with wind. April 23, 2022.
Bare-Faced G0-Away Birds – a less-colorful relative of Turacos – on the RICA campus. April 10, 2022.
Soil sampling using a hoe. On the RICA campus, in a long-term demonstration study of different conservation agriculture practices. May 2, 2022.
Male Pin-Tailed Whydah on the RICA campus. April 23, 2022. (I’ve previously included a photo of this bird).
Construction workers preparing to erect a roof beam on RICA’s Inuma Hall. This roof was removed for repairs in May. June 15, 2022.
Grain bins under construction adjacent to RICA’s feed center. June 15, 2022.
Purple-Crested Turaco on the RICA campus. June 13, 2022. (I’ve previously included a photo of this bird). Note that leaves on trees show drought stress as we’re in the dry season.
Speckled Mousebird on the RICA campus. June 19, 2022. (I’ve previously included a photo of this bird).
Passionfruit bloom, RICA vegetable and fruit enterprise. June 19, 2022.
Wild Morning Glory – RICA campus, June 19, 2022.

Observations from Rwanda: May 12, 2022

Lake Kilimbi with the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) campus in the background. May 7, 2022.
View from our house of Lake Kilimbi and the RICA campus. 5:30 AM, May 11, 2022.
Early morning view of the RICA Campus Center. May 11, 2022.
Meyer’s Parrot in front of our house, RICA campus. May 1, 2022.
RICA students laying out drip irrigation line for a newly planted field of potatoes. April 13, 2022.
Construction worker on the RICA campus. May 2, 2022.
Soybean developing on one of RICA’s center-pivot irrigated fields. April 30, 2022.
Black-Headed Heron perched on one of RICA’s center-pivot irrigation systems. May 2, 2022.
Pair of Crowned Lapwings, RICA campus. April 30, 2022.
Crowned Lapwing in flight. May 7, 2022.

Construction worker watering RICA’s new football (soccer) field. May 7, 2022.
A kite (uncertain species) launching from a Candelabra Tree. April 30, 2022.
RICA’s campus on a hazy morning. April 30, 2022.
Flock of Grey-Backed Fiscals. RICA campus. April 30, 2022.

Observations from Rwanda: April 10, 2022

Little Egret in marshland along Lake Kilimbi, near the campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). April 3, 2022.
No-till planting soybean in a RICA center-pivot irrigated field. March 19, 2022.
RICA students in a field session of the March Plant Health Workshop. March 17, 2022.
A farmer watering newly planted trees, on the peninsula between Lakes Kilimbi and Gaharwa near RICA. April 10, 2022.
A goat leads the way for a group of kids on the Peninsula Road near RICA. April 10, 2022.
Bats leaving Rufunzo Hall in the evening. The roof is to be repaired shortly, which should encourage bats to move elsewhere – hopefully not inside another building. April 9, 2022.
Enjoying sugar cane on the road between Kigali and Musanze. March 26, 2022.
Farming on slopes in the Northern Province – road between Kigali and Musanze. March 26, 2022.
Golden Monkey, near Volcanoes National Park. Monkeys come out of the park to adjacent crop fields to eat small potatoes left after harvest. March 27, 2022.
Mother and baby Golden Monkeys. March 27, 2022.
Baby Golden Monkey. March 27, 2022.
Golden Monkeys grazing a potato field adjacent to Volcanoes National Park, with Mount Sabinyo in the background. March 27, 2022.
Golden Monkey enjoying a potato breakfast. March 27, 2022.
Volcanoes National Park trackers follow Golden Monkeys to insure visitors can find them. Weapons are for protection as a last resort from buffalo in the park. March 27, 2022.

Observations from Rwanda: March 10, 2022

Looking back to Lake Kilimbi on a Sunday morning bike ride. March 6, 2022.
Grey-Crowned Crane, at the Gashora Bird Watching Spot north of the campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). January 30, 2022.
Great White Pelican. Gashora Bird Watching Spot. January 30, 2022.
White-Faced Whistling Duck. Gashora Bird Watching Spot. January 30, 2022.
RICA Second Cohort students preparing to plant vegetables in a new production field. February 11, 2022.
Hippo tracks through a field of newly planted pepper plants on the RICA campus. The papyrus marsh along Lake Kilimbi is in the background. February 28, 2022.
Maize drying on racks outside a home. North of Lake Sake, which is northeast of RICA. February 18, 2022.
Dried maize, ready to be bagged and trucked to the buyer. Nasho Irrigation Project, February 25, 2022.
RICA students, along with RICA faculty and staff, visiting with a farmer in his field at the Nasho Irrigation Project. The farmer has mulched his corn with composted corn residue, and removed weeds in a timely manner. The area in the foreground is a different farmer’s field, which is not as well managed. These are two of around 30 farmer’s fields under one center pivot irrigation system. There are 63 center pivot irrigation systems in this project, each pivot with 30-40 farmers. February 25, 2022.
Area residents stop to listen to RICA students visiting with farmers – Nasho Irrigation Project. February 25, 2022.
Termites working in a newly planted irrigated soybean field – RICA campus. February 26, 2022.
Banana trees in the foreground of a misty valley east of Lake Sake. February 18, 2022.
Black-Headed Weaver building a nest. February 26, 2022.
Black-Headed Weaver building a nest. February 26, 2022.
White-Browed Robinchat song. February 19, 2022.
Woodland Kingfisher song. February 6, 2022.

Observations from Rwanda: February 6, 2022

Cattle grazing near Lake Gaharwa, with the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) on the far bank. RICA is situated between Lake Gaharwa on the south and Lake Kilimbi to the north. January 2, 2022.
Children cooling off in Lake Gaharwa before filling water jugs and returning to the village with water on bicycles. January 2, 2022.
Pushing a bike uphill loaded with water is a team effort. January 16, 2022.
RICA student Jean Claude picking mangoes in the RICA orchard. January 14, 2022.
RICA Vegetable and Fruit Enterprise Technologist Pacifique demonstrates to students how to identify damaged mangoes while harvesting. January 14, 2022.
A RICA dairy cow in the pasture after milking on a foggy morning. January 2, 2022.
Construction workers arriving to work early on a foggy morning. January 2, 2022.
RICA dairy cows in the pasture after milking in the morning. RICA’s dairy herd is mostly Friesian (Holstein). Approximately 20 cows are being milked in a temporary facility until the permanent dairy enterprise construction is complete. RICA’s water treatment facility is in the background. January 9, 2022.
Cattle Egrets are typically near the RICA dairy herd in the pasture. January 16, 2022.
A Cattle Egret over RICA’s dairy herd. January 16, 2022.
A RICA housekeeper sweeping the sidewalk near Muduha Hall early in the morning. January 15, 2022.
RICA students dissecting rabbits in Biology Lab, with oversight of RICA faculty. January 11, 2022.
Heading to market in the nearby village of Gashora. Jackfruit are currently in season. January 30, 2022.
A farmer preparing a paddy rice field for planting near Gashora, north of the RICA campus in Bugesera. January 30, 2022.
A Wire-Tailed Swallow on a bridge over the Nyabarongo River, east of Gashora in Bugesera district. January 30, 2022.

Observations from Rwanda: January 1, 2022

The campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) has been very quiet the last couple of weeks. Students finished final exams and left campus on December 16. Most construction activities have taken a break over the holiday season. A few staff and students stayed on campus to milk cows and feed chickens, and others insured RICA’s solar power plant and water supply systems continue to function. Students will begin returning to campus in another week, with the next term starting January 10, 2022.

Richard Ferguson

The dormitory for 2nd and 3rd year students on the campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) across Lake Kilimbi. The short structure in the foreground is the water pumping system to draw water from the lake for the campus; the structure under construction to the right is a swine barn for the First Year Farms. December 5, 2021.
A Black-Headed Heron taking flight from one of RICA’s fields. December 5, 2021.
Trees in the conservation savanna woodland on a misty day on the RICA campus. RICA has the second largest area of natural savanna woodland in Rwanda, after Akagera National Park. December 29, 2021.
Female Grosbeak Weaver in a farmer’s sunflower field near Lake Kilimbi. December 5, 2021.
Male Grosbeak Weaver (also known as the Thick-Billed Weaver) in the same farmer’s field as the photo above. December 5, 2021.
Children gathering firewood from RICA savanna woodland. December 29, 2021.
Side-Striped Jackal on the RICA Peninsula Road. December 22, 2021.
Our cat (Little Bit) watching for monkeys. December 29, 2021.