Krassgrün - News from Germany

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Afrika-Blog

News from Germany

News from Germany

Impressions from our Ugandan interns: Daily work on the farm, leisure acitivities and insights how they expect the german way of life...

Lucky Kirungi and Maureen Kaliisa at the Thuenen Institute of Organic farming

We are doing our internship at the Thuenen Institute of Organic farming that is located in Trenthorst, Westerau, in Germany. The institute does research on organic farming on behalf of the German Government. They have a mixed farm comprising of dairy cows, pigs, chicken and crops. The last 10 weeks have been a roller coaster of observing, exploring and learning agriculture and culture in Germany. It’s very amazing how different everything is here from farming, food, work ethics, security etc.

Our first assignment was supporting on the African project: "Landless food". The project seeks to find a solution for the growing population that is estimated to be between 11.2 and 16.6 billion by 2100. A landless food system will be combined with land based agriculture in a circular sustainable way to provide food especially for the low income countries with high population density.

 

In the project we are supporting on an experiment of growing mushrooms from nonfood substrates on a 458 m2 (That is estimated to be available cropland per person in Africa by 2100). The spent mushroom substrate is then fed on earthworms. The earthworms in turn multiply, and also make compost out of the spent substrate. When cultivated, the earthworms can be fed on chicken as additional protein.

 

As scientific as this may sound, we have been exposed to the basics of growing mushrooms by practically preparing the materials required like the substrates, sterilizing them and applying spawn. This has helped us learn how to cultivate mushrooms and also how to make quality compost using earthworms.

 

 

We have also been able to support at the farm station that is run by the institute for different experiments. We have observed the different activities at the farm but also participated in others like preparing and cleaning stables, preparing feed for cows, pigs and chicken, construction and repairs of animal stables and milking. 

 

Unlike in Uganda most of the activities are mechanized and this is a unique experience for us. At the farm we also have a chance to interact with the workers about different topics like culture and they have also gotten a chance to ask us about farming in Uganda.

 

 

Besides the work, we have had an opportunity to explore the different nearby cities thanks to our hosts who have been kind enough to offer us bicycles, teach us how to ride through on our own as well as take us on different city tours for us to get well vested with life in Germany.

We have been oriented on the work ethic like preparing weekly time sheets, conducting weekly assessment meetings and at the farm attending a daily brief meeting at 7:30 to plan for the day. These have been very helpful for us in planning for the days as well as accounting for our time.

We also ride bicycles to and from the farm which is 3.5 km away. This is a unique experience for us, we like it because it helps us easily access the farm station, keeps us fit and also makes us independent.

 

 

Zwischenseminar in Berlin: Besuche der Stadtfarm und des Ökodorfs Brodowin

Vor zwei Wochen war es so weit: Unser Zwischenseminar in Berlin für unsere ugandischen Teilnehmenden konnte coronakonform stattfinden. Das zweite der drei Seminare, die im Rahmen des "International Young Farmers‘ Exchange Program" stattfinden, bietet den Teilnehmenden Deutschlands Hauptstadt kennenzulernen, an spannenden landwirtschaftlichen Exkursionen teilzunehmen und sich über das bereits Erlebte mit den Mitstreiter*innen auszutauschen.

 

Donnerstag, 15.00 Uhr, stehen wir als Team der Schorlemer Stiftung am Berliner Hauptbahnhof, ein Zug aus Kiel kommt quietschend zum Stehen. Uns kommt die erste Gruppe der ugandischen Teilnehmenden entgegen: Ein bisschen müde von der langen Zugfahrt, aber breit grinsend voller Vorfreude auf das Seminar. Das kann man sogar mit Maske erkennen! Auch wir freuen uns, alle endlich mal wiederzusehen und begrüßen uns mit den Ellenbogen, um danach den Weg zum Hotel anzutreten. Auf dem Weg wird mit einem herzhaften Lachen über das deutsche Wetter gemurrt, welches auch an diesem Wochenende sehr kalt und diesig ist. Kein Grund für schlechte Laune, denn die Vorfreude endlich alle aus der Gruppe wiederzusehen, liegt in der Luft. Nach einem weiteren Corona-Test vor Ort und während eines Abendspazierganges zum Brandenburger Tor werden die ersten erlebten Geschichten ausgetauscht.

 

 

Am nächsten Tag geht es auf eine Exkursion. Wir haben zwei Ziele vor uns: Einmal die StadtFarm, wo wir eine Führung zum Thema Smart Urban Farming und AquaTerraPonic bekommen. Das zweite Ziel ist das Ökodorf Brodowin. Das Interesse der Gruppe für beide Betriebe ist groß. Die Aufenthalte sind geprägt durch interessante Gespräche mit den Tourführer*innen, bei denen Erfahrungen, Meinungen und Wissen angeregt und offen ausgetauscht werden. Der Tag endet mit einer großen Runde durch Berlin, vorbei am Reichstag bis zur East Side Gallery.

 

 

Normalerweise kommt erst die Arbeit und dann das Vergnügen. Bei uns läuft es dieses Mal anders herum: Erst Vergnügen, dann "Arbeit". Am Samstag und Sonntag standen die Teilnehmenden unter den wachsamen Händen und Augen von Sonja Dimter, Trainerin der Andreas Hermes Akademie, die mit der Gruppe die vergangenen 6 Wochen des Austausches reflektierte und evaluierte. Im Seminarraum erwartete die Gruppe am Morgen 5 leere, graue Pinnwände,aber schon nach kurzer Zeit füllt Lachen und Geschäftigkeit den Raum, die Pinnwände hängen voller bunter Zettel und Karten, auf denen die Teilnehmenden Gelerntes, Erlebtes, Erfahrungen sowie schwierige und gemeisterte Situationen festhalten.

 

Im anschließenden Gespräche findet jeder Zeit, seine Geschichten mit der Gruppe zu teilen. Hinzu kommt ein Einzelaustausch mit dem afrikanischen Trainer, bei dem bei Bedarf persönliche Sorgen angesprochen werden konnten. Das Wochenende endet mit einer kleinen Lockerungs- und Tanzeinheit und die Teilnehmenden kehren mit neuen Eindrücken und tieferen Freundschaften zu ihren ‚German homes' zurück. 

 

 

Eva Grace Birungi: EXPERIENCE AND TELL OF FARMING IN GERMANY

Germany is one of the countries that’s 53% having farmers involved in renewable energy which makes it a country practicing and empowering green energy in their country. So with that knowledge I got so interested in the country because in my country I am among the people who would wish that green energy is advocated and implemented among farmers. So personally I practice it at a small scale and coming to Germany was one way of how I could get more knowledge to my renewable energy practices.

 

My farm in Uganda is called my passion farm and it’s a mixed farm practicing different kinds of farming that’s growing of crops, such as maize, coffee, bananas, fruits such as mangoes and also rearing of animals like chicken, pigs and goats. We also do renewable energy practices such as portable bio gas digester.

 

I chose the farm of Tobias, my host farmer, because we have so much in common that we both do in regards to farming, but above all the farm practices and endorses, the use of renewable energy in various aspects such as solar panels, biogas plants, and wind mills. So it’s what my farming practicing in Uganda needed to become better and I'm really happy to be at Tobias farm. So far I really enjoy the stay and Tobias and his Family give me a warm welcome when I arrived in Germany.

 

 

During my stay I discover many differences between Uganda and Germany. They are there and if I share everything it would take me a full day but I will point out the most important ones:

 

  1. Uganda as a country has the same weather through the year and I have never experienced degrees that are as low as 1,2...15 degrees in my life which was a great difference!
  2. The food was another one. Here in Germany bread is part of every dish and I have to admit, yes, I missed the full plate meals we normally have.
  3. In Uganda almost every one speaks English and I was surprised that most people in Germany hardly spoke English but it was okay, because they have one national language. 
  4. Germany farmers use a lot of machinery with less labour force from humans which gives them better farming performances than in Uganda where we employ a lot of human labour.
  5. Germany respects public holidays and Sundays as days of rest, so it was a total difference to me and how we behave in my country Uganda. We used the sundays to rest and explore different things and part of my "new home".

 

 

My farm has a diversity of activities that I am actively involved in such as working in the chicken barns, working in the pig barns and working in the sheep barns.

 

The farm has flower fields that are for self-cutting so I have been involved in platting of the flowers and the management of them. The farm has egg picking and sorting on a machine, which I have enjoyed and would like to one-day practice it also in Uganda!

 

The farm has cereal crops which I found when already planted, but I was part of the cultivations in preparations for corn planting and also I participated in spraying of the wheat, kanula, barley and beans which was involving use of  different tractors.    

 

 

Seth Rutah Uwizeye auf dem Hof Thies: Beyond my expectations!

On my way to Germany - the home of the largest and biggest dairy farmers - as a dairy farmer from Uganda, I expected to learn machinery and the production of the Holstein Friesians. I learnt in the first week that this was not the usual farming as I expected it and I was a bit disappointed in myself about what I had expected. Farming in Germany is not about what I expected.

 

It is true: much of the work is done by machinery. The work which could be done by 100 farmers in a laborious day in Uganda. For me farming in Germany is simply strategy, systems and hard work!

 

 

Me and my host farmer Steffen experiencing summer in Germany!

Strategy

After World War Two, my host farm had existed for 50 years plus and the farm had pigs and 15 cattle. When it was handed over to the first generation, they majored in dairy and expanded. Now the third generation has taken over. Their succession strategy is for sustainability. Farmers in Germany are not just doing core activities but have strategic choices they have taken to engage in a certain choice.

 

My Host farm specializes in dairy and whatever is done on the farm is to support the dairy. For instance, they fatten the bulls which are born from the Holsteins for resale and grow wheat and barley to get straw for the animals even though the wheat is sold. They have diverse activities but the focus is in one line of production.

 

 

Hard Work

On a dairy farm, the official reporting time is 4.00 am and work starts with milking. We finish milking and cleaning up the stables and feeding the animals and take breakfast at 8 a.m. Thirty minutes break and work resumes.

 

We break off for lunch at 12.30, enjoy some good meat and Germany bread with a drink of your choice and a desert. We resume work at 1.30 pm and carry on till the coffee break at 4 p.m. with all sorts of delicious cakes and coffee without "Zucker". We go for the second milking at 4.30 p.m. and we close the day at 8 p.m. We work as a family and at leisure with self drive.

 

The "Deutsche respect time" and much of what is enjoyed during the breaks is talking majorly about what happened on the farm.

 

 

Systems

Regulations and standards are followed to the dot. No need of an implementer, each one watches over his own department and work to ensure they are doing what is legal. Everything has a place and a position and I am learning the routine from my host farmer Steffen.

 

 

In other words...

Away from the farm, I have found a home away from home enjoyed the warm welcome from my host family and the introductions to the community.  Language is a challenge, but the love can be seen in the smiles and the eyes of the people here. I have had visits to family friends who are also farmers and taken a few notes.

I have also time to be introduced to the church community and the fire brigade volunteers from where I have learnt about life in Germany as a community. I am still learning more and enjoying life with my host family. Hoping the cold feet and hands soon go as we head to summer!

 

 

Abschluss der ersten Austauschrunde - Januar 2020

Offizieller Programmabschluss während der IGW

Zur Internationalen Grünen Woche sind alle unsere Teilnehmenden noch einmal in Berlin zusammen gekommen. Nicht nur unsere deutschen und ugandischen PraktikantInnen, sondern auch die BetriebsleiterInnen der deutschen Gastbetriebe haben sich für ein letztes Treffen, eine Auswertungsrunde und eine offizielle Verabschiedung auf den Weg nach Berlin gemacht.  

 

Während der Messe gab es einiges zu tun. An den Ständen der Andreas Hermes Akademie und der Schorlemer Stiftung standen unsere PraktikantInnen und MitarbeiterInnen für Fragen rund um das Austauschprogramm zur Verfügung. Es wurden Kontakte geknüpft, sich ausgetauscht und auch schon die nächste Runde im April 2020 geplant.

 

Der Bundesminister für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung Dirk Müller und Werner Schwarz, Vizepräsident des DBV, kamen vorbei, um sich ein eigenes Bild von unserem Young Farmers' International Exchange Program zu machen.

 

 

Unsere Teilnehmerin Lora, die ihr Praktikum in Uganda auf der Katigondo Seminary Farm verbrachte, stand für ein Interveiw bereit und berichtet von ihren Erlebnissen und Erfahrungen die sie auf ihrem Gastbetrieb gemacht hat.

Auf der Bühne des Bundesministeriums für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung konnten wir unser Austauschprojekt vorstellen und mit der Staatssekretäring Frau Dr. Flachsbarth über die Hintergründe sprechen. Unsere beiden Teilnehmenden Lora und Harbert berichteten von den Erfahrungen, die sie während der vergangenen drei Monate in ihrem jeweiligen Gastland machen konnten. Geoffrey Okot, Präsident unserer ugandischen Partnerorganisation UNYFA, und Dr. Andreas Quiring von der Andreas Hermes Akademie, sprachen über die politischen und gesellschaftlichen Rahmenbedingungen, innerhalb derer der Young Farmers‘ Exchange stattfindet.   

Am letzten Abend fand die offizielle Aushändigung der Teilnehmerzertifikate statt.

Hier zu sehen: Johannes Leberer (Schorlemer Stiftung), Dirk Schmülgen (AHA), Joseph Wandera (ugandischer Landwirt) und Nicole Bolomey (AHA).

Früh am nächsten Morgen ging es dann für die UganderInnen zum Flughafen, während sich die deutschen Teilnehmerinnen mit der Bahn auf den Weg nach Hause machten. Eine Teilnehmerin, Brigitte Basedau, Landwirtin aus Schleswig-Holstein, hat jedoch nicht an unserem Abschlussseminar teilgenommen. Sie verbingt weitere drei Monate in Ostafrika, in Ugandas Nachbarland Tanzania.

Harbert Mawejje - January 2020

Potential business opportunities I have learned in Germany, which can also be applied in Uganda!

Me and my host Mr. Coenen.
Me and the "Gruenkohl".

Today, 795 million people are hungry and another 2 billion are expected to join them by 2050.

However, global food production is incredibly efficient and able to feed more than 10 billion people with currently the global population being estimated to 7.6 billion people. Our inability to feed the entirety of the world is due to food wastage with 1.3 billion tons (1/3 of the world food production) of food for consumption being wasted. In developing countries 40% losses occur mainly at early stage of the food value chain and can be tracked back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage.

 

One of the ways that is much emphasized in Uganda to reduce wastage is value addition as it was noted from the previous concluded state of the national Address by the president in Uganda. Value addition can occur in various ways but it can be as simple as packaging, at my host farm the “Hofladen Coenen”. You can’t fail to note the different simple techniques of how to deal with perishable products – from flowers to vegetables. Amongst the many we will only note those that can be deployed or replicated within the Ugandan context.

 

The first one concerns the packaging of fruits. Fruits like pomegranate and coconut are fruits liked by many people, however consumers are discouraged from buying them because of their perishability once opened, size being too big for one time consumption not mentioning the time to invest in separating the pericarp from the edible part. As a way of increasing preference and palatability of the fruits to their customers, while saving time and fear of perishability, the Hofladen Coenen prepares the fruits and packs it in sizable 150 g packs for its customers for 2.5 euros per pack.  From one fruit 2 packs of 150 g can be obtained. In terms of profits 14-15 packs can be obtained from one carter of fruits which goes for 5-8 euros, also sold at the Hofladen. Data from the shop shows, that - since they started packing the fruits – there has been a 150% increase in the consumption of the fruit.

 

Pomegranate packed vs...
...pomegranate as a whole fruit.

This is one example of many fruits that are packaged in the Hofladen and it surely demonstrates how well customers preference, economies of scale and perishability can be dealt with. 

The second technique I want to talk about is direct marketing. Vegetables like “Gruenkohl” (kale), which is majorly grown on the farm, are very perishable. The farm employs direct markets around the region which ensure that most of the products can be sold as fast as possible. However, the Gruenkohl is also being packed in 400 g bags after being chopped into small sizeable pieces that are enjoyed by the customer. Packed Gruenkhol can be stored easily in a cool place without wilting as compared to the plant itself.

 

Packed Gruenkohl vs...
...loose Gruenkohl.

The above noted examples are potential business opportunities also for Uganda as they don’t require any special equipment like a cool house or improved structures but rather work within in the existing atmosphere.  

 

I thank all the partners that have made this exchange possible: AHA, the Schorlemer Stiftung and UNYFA plus the Coenens and the Hofladen team!  

Paul Okurut - January 2020

Christmas and New Year's in Germany

I am Okurut Paul, I live in Martin Post farm.

In this farm they do pig fattening and biogas. There are 2.000 pigs in the farm, which are normally brought to the farm when they are 28 days old, weighing between 25-30 kg. They are kept for 100-120 days in the farm before selling. The pigs are sold weighing between 115-130 kg.

The biogas station in this farm produces up to 500 kW per day.


Christmas

Christmas in Germany normally starts on 1st December with decorations and Christmas markets open, the flower farms open up to around 10th December and close until February of the new year.

Christmas in Germany is celebrated on 24th December in the Eve of the day and the Christmas tree is displayed on the same day in the morning. The day starts as usual with breakfast at 7:00 am and normal work continues till 12:00 pm when you get in for lunch. By 5:00 pm we drove with the family members to church. At church the bell was rang, marking the beginning of the service, children play a simple drama and the offertory is given and normal church service starts, then people go for the holy communion. After the service, you have to wish the few people around Merry Christmas and you drive back home for further celebrations.

Dinner was served and after we moved to the living room for a scripture reading, sing one or two songs and wish each other Merry Christmas again at home, take seats and the presents are given to individual members, as you keep seeping different kinds of drinks like wine, bears, sodas, juice to mention.


New Year's Eve

On New Year’s Eve, people meet friends, talk and drink until 12:00 am and make fireworks. Then after they get back to their homes and sleep. We the African interns from the Westphalia side spent our New Year’s Eve together at Mr. Sprenkers home, where we made some of the African food like Chapati, sweet potatoes, green bananas among others and had a meal together with the host family. We had fireworks twice, first we celebrated the African time which was 22:00 am German time, then at midnight the normal German time.

We spent our night together as interns in Sprenkers farm and got back for breakfast the next morning before driving back to our respective farms.

Here in my farm is where I got lunch with my host family members and celebrated 1st in a local way they said it. We had different types of food and a hot-plate on the table for roasting our meat and worming up our food locally.

 

Joan Kisaakye - January 2020

Christmas and New Year's in Germany

Christmas preparations started immediately after the 24th of November, which is the "Sunday in commemoration of the dead" and in German Portestant Church the last Sunday before Advent".
Here, I am cutting a natural christmas tree from the forest.

Rev. Gesewsky and me after a service on the 24th of December evening at St. Martin Luther Church in Achtrup.
Lightning the christmas tree candles.

Giving a christmas gift to my hostfamily.
I am eating a "Berliner" (German Pancake) at New Year's with my hostfamily.

Nehemiah Buwule - December 2019

Nehemiah stays at a fruit-growing farm in North Rhine-Westphalia

I was hosted at „Obstbau Felten“ farm in Meckenheim. It is a third generation farm, growing fruits like pears, plums, strawberries and apples being the candidate crop.

Professional, I came with expectations to be addressed mainly in areas of post-harvest handling and marketing of farm produce.

 

After harvesting, fruits are stored in cold rooms, which increases their life and then they are being sold after several months. The temperature in the cold room is lowered to almost 3 °C and nitrogen is pumped into the rooms to promote coldness. Oxygen is reduced as it promotes rotting.

On the farm, we have a farm shop were we do direct marketing of over 60% of the produce while the other 40% is sold to other clients. Marketing is still a problem, even in Germany, so the farm should practically take the initiative to look for the market for its produce by creating farm shops or other avenues that maximize its profit margins.

The quality of farm produce is very paramount to provide a cutting edge against other competitors. This is regulated by proper farm practices like weeding, spraying, pruning to mention but a few.

In a nutshell, 80% of my expectations have been met and I would like to express my special thanks to the BMZ, the Schorlemer Stiftung, the Andreas Hermes Akademie and UNYFA.  

 

Gadafi Yiiki - December 2019 - About my hostfarm and the importance of agriculture

Gadafi stays at a farm in North Rhine-Westphalia - it is a mixed farm with crop production, bull fattening and dairy farming

Agriculture is one of the most important economic sectors in the national economy of most tropical and temperate countries in the world. Within my placement on a German dairy farm (through the international young farmers exchange program), I have made several findings and critical observations concerning consumable products.

 

The German dairy industry is the largest branch within the German agricultural production. In recent years, the dairy industry in Germany has undergone a considerable structural change, during which the average number of cows per farm has increased.

 

 

The farm of my host family, farm Budde, which was first mentioned in documents in 1495, was family owned since 1956 and started cattle breeding in 1970. The farm has 274 heads of cattle and 115 cows are milkers.

 

Some of the activities we perform on the farm are: milking of cows, which takes approximately two hours in the morning and one and a half hour in the evening. The average amount of milk from one cow is 40 liters per day and the best milker can give you 60 liters (35 l in the morning, 25 l in the evening) per day.

 

Every other day, an average of 6.700 liters of milk is taken to the dairy.

 

 

The animals are fed on a variety of feeds, depending on their stages of growth and production. The farm stores grass and maize in ground silos, straw in halls, concentrates and pellets in high silos. The farm has several implements which are used during feeding like a feed mixer, a stacker, a grass mixing cart and a forklift with a food box that helps in accomplishing tasks within the shortest time possible. The high level of mechanization on the Budde family farm, according to my perception as an agriculturalist, is an indication to attain a hunger free status of the world. I think, that we need to maximize production by the use of digital agriculture, which requires comprehensive efforts.

 

 

To conclude, I would like to say that currently 821 million people worldwide are hungry and therefore the governments of each member nation needs to expand, expound and diversify agricultural production. Markets for producers need to be created and digital technologies need to be enhanced. Furthermore we need to create regulations and infrastructures so that fresh products are more accessible to consumers.

 

 

Me, besides working on the farm...