Krassgrün - News from Germany
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...
8th April 2022 is the evening I stepped foot at the Arendse dairy farm (Uplengen, Leer district, Lower Saxony, Germany) where I was to stay for my next three months. Its life style by profile is about cows, cows and cows. Back home in Uganda I am a mixed farmer, but largely inclined towards diary, an agronomist and farmer trainer. The key enterprises on my farm are diary, piggery and banana. An opportunity to train in dairy herd management is therefore a step in the right direction. My focus was on learning the feed management systems (conservation and production). Land in Uganda is increasingly becoming scarce and therefore production under intensive systems is the way to go.
The warm reception and the interactive nature of my hosts, Gerrit and his wife Johanna gave me a feel at home and calmed down my anxieties. Next morning I was all out ready to see how the farm operates. Not even the unusual cold weather could beat my curiosity. Took a farm tour and was introduced to the program of the day and the events to follow. To my surprise, it was more than just cows, cows, and cows but a whole diary production system.
The farm has a wide range of machinery, pasture fields both grass and crop pastures. All this was available for me to learn. It is at this moment that I said wow. The events that followed are what I term as the learning by practice as was always put by Johanna. My hosts introduced me to all farm operations and gave me chance to learn and practice everything within the chain. Milking, tractor driving and mounting of different equipments, simple machinery, feed mixing, formulation and pasture management and conservation, calf management, breeding, production data analysis and planning of farm activities. I made some mistakes in the process but my hosts were always there to guide and encourage. They also introduced me and we made visits to several other farmers to relate how operations run there and explore more on other enterprises that were not available on the farm. Introduced and arranged meetings with the expert personnel who answered the technical questions that my hosts could not answer in detail. I met and interacted with nutritionists from feed companies, breeders, manufacturers of the different equipments used at the farm (automatic feeders and robots), attended the dairy farmers exhibition in Aurich where different technologies related to diary and other livestock where being showcased. There I also interacted with experts in the chain.
It is these participations and practices that I came to a conclusion of no input no output and that’s my take home. Unlike how things run in Uganda where a few things in the system are left to survive by their own here I learnt it’s a deliberate effort, to achieve what you need, be an increase in quantity of production or quality, It requires a proper planning and execution of ideas in order to gain.
Away from farm life; it is my first time in Europe (ha-ha) and I hope you know what this one means: I mean this is the country and lifestyle that one could only watch on Tele and maybe just imagine but, here we are. It is a marathon of events from the weather switch, to the amazing transport system, the beautiful scenery, the social events (May tree, Easter fires). You are there and the nine euro ticket comes in, off to the south, the hilly part of Germany where you realize “moin” is not as common as you think. I made tours to Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Kassel, the North Sea and Groningen in the Netherlands.
All this and that are memories to treasure. Events that make you forget the unusual dishes (bread), time pressure and the sometimes physical demanding nature of farm work. I am so grateful to my host family, community, partner organizations and everyone that has been part of this great journey.
My name is Daphine Ampaire, a female ugandan and 22 yrs. I am a passionate agripreneur but who is very interested in women empowerment and entrepreneurship. I run a company called Daph Agribusiness Limited, it provides technical knowledge and skills , agricultural extension advisory and also consultancy. Currently our main flagship program is handled by Daph bees limited which includes training of beekeepers and provision of necessary standard inputs. My motivation to come and learn in Germany was to provide me with knowledge about different farming enterprises and also ways of work. I took my first steps and requested to be matched to an organic diary farm because this is my company's next area of interest. Great thanks to UNYFA, because they understood my intentions and willing to support my dream I was matched to an organic diary farm in Germany which is Biohof Rzehak.
Biohof Rzehak is an organic farm mainly dealing in dairy cattle, bull fattening, milk processing and direct marketing. It's run by Yannick Rzehak and Ana Kenner (hosts), alongside Tonia Rzehak (sister). The farm is unique because it's among the few farms run based on a community supported agriculture system that I found very interesting as customer are more closely related to the producer of their food stuffs. 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.we start our working routine by 6am in the morning and we close the day at 8 p.m But with some breaks for lunch, having coffe in the evening and after breakfast. We work as a family and at leisure with self drive. This is very interesting.
The "Deutsche respect time" and much of what is enjoyed during the breaks is talking majorly about what happened on the farm. Language is a challenge, but the love can be seen in the smiles and the eyes of the people here. My host family is really a hospitable family, loving, caring and made me feel at home all the time. I have not had hardships with language because they are good at speaking English and even helped me translate to visitors who cannot understand me.
As I moved to Germany my first worry was how I will associate with people we don't speak the same language, don't understand their culture and I was always scared of making mistakes but luckily enough none of my worries were true. Meeting Ann was one of my greatest happiness. She become my mother in this new country, she always cared to know about how I feel about different things which made my nerves relax all the time. I must appreciate her commitment to make me fit in the family. My host family has given me a chance to engage in all farm activities, learn and ask, but also give my thoughts of what I think should have been done. I have taken part in maintaining records of calves, feeding all cattle groups, fencing, simple farm repairs, rotational grazing, feed mixing, cleaning the barn and re-arranging straw beds, using the tractors and many other activities.
In the other farm departments I participated in the milk processing unit (creamery) with activities like bottling, product labeling, yoghurt production, cheese making and preparing re-usuable glasses. I was also able in this way to participate in product delivery to the the different customers and stockists. So indeed it really was a wholesome experience on the farm. I appreciate their hard work to make sure I learn everything. Besides working at the farm I was given an opportunity to visit a bee farm in Germany on the world bees day which was a great opportunity for me and I also learnt a lot from it. Besides farm activities Ann and Yannick each weekend took me out so as to tour Germany and this has made my stay here a great experience . I have visited the Kiel Harbour, ship welcome point in Rendersburg, gone for a nature walk in the forests, visited the zoo and national park too, visited different towns like Lüneburg and Lübeck, Flensburg and Eckernförde. I have visited the baltic sea and many other interesting places. I met some of their friends who became my friends as well and made me comfortable. My mindset and attitude towards work will not remain the same. I also learnt how to ride a bicycle by Yannick and my first experience was always funny because I had to park by the road side each time a vehicle was passing by me. It's a whole memorable experience but am grateful!
Goodbye is the saddest word I would say to this family I hope to meet them sometime again probably in my country as well or even visiting Germany again.
Special thanks to UNYFA, Andreas Hermes Akademie, Schorlemer Stiftung, Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) for supporting me and other Ugandan Young farmers to have such a great opportunity to participate in this wonderful internship program.
Thank you Ana and Yannick for hosting me and allowing me to be part of your family.
My name is Nakkonde Divina Lilian, a young farmer from Kkonde Family Farm and KYEMPAPU-Uganda. I am happy to be part of the August 2022 exchange program and more so being on Thuenen Institute for Organic Farming.
At the institute, I participate in daily farm activities like mushroom growing, I am happy I have tasted some of our harvest and it’s pretty delicious. I also chop straw on which the different mushroom will be grown. On Thursday in particular, we undertake worm experiments to see how they are doing in different compost and this will further help determine which compost is better for mushroom growth. I also take care of the sheep and as well engage in other activities like cleaning of shelter for animals, feeding pigs and proper fencing for sheep. I am excited that there’s still a lot to learn in the coming weeks especially on the crops department.
During my free time, I work on my proposal. I also like to ride the bike which was given to me so I usually ride to Familla or Lubeck to buy a few items.
I also take walks in the fields or forests during my free time. I like Germany because of its improved agricultural system since its mechanized and therefore more work can be done in a very short time. All the work on the farm in Uganda is done manually which leads to low output and is also very time consuming. The agricultural sector here is also good because of specialization.
I have learnt that specialization is important on they type of crop or animals to keep, and I am ready to adopt it when I go back to Uganda. I have also noted that women are so involved in so many tasks. I couldn’t imagine to see young ladies drive big machines and tractors! That was so impressive. Even if we don’t have the machines, I hope to inspire young girls especially youth in my community to join agribusiness. I was also happy to visit a coffee meseum in Hamburg and most exciting that they also have coffee from Uganda!
I am so happy and thankful for such a great opportunity that was given to me to be part of this excellent program.
On the night of the 8th of April 2022, I pinched myself as I stood on the compound of the farm I would call home for the coming months.
I had arrived in Oldendorf, a beautiful village located between Bremen and Bremerhaven in lower Saxony Germany, to my host family, your super warm and friendly reception was awesome! Müllers Bestes is a dairy farm with arable farming and cattle breeding, the farm also grows maize and potatoes with a self-run shop and with online services as well. The activities at the farm greatly suits my desires and the support from each member of the family is super. My heart is filled with utmost honor and gratitude being placed on such a special farm with plenty of machines, diverse breeds of cattle and so much resource/expertise in this field, I acquire skills ranging from breeding, feeding, milking, using machines, interpersonal and intercultural skills etc. It is indeed special!
It’s a simple experiment, but if you haven’t tried it yet, you’re missing out! When you bring travel and career together, the experience is awesome. I was staring at the night’s sky in a country I thought I would only visit through movies and TV shows, my mind was like a multi-lane highway, with my thoughts coming and going in different directions all the time. The need to improve my farm back in Uganda was my prime goal, at STEMA farm, where my story begins, the farm is run differently and hence there was need to bench mark, learn, unlearn and employ some of the appropriate techniques that were used on Germany farms.
My big “aha” moment came the day I moved around and watched a whole different transport system, beautiful forests, the cold weather and plenty of machines on farm and in the fields. I was used to a casual working style where everything was done manually. The urge to satisfy my learning objective was top notch, I made mistakes as part of the learning process but kept on improving for each day that passed by, the actions I took motivated me to keep pushing on a daily basis. Whenever there was a village event, I would most probably be invited, this brought me closer to the community than any other thing ever did. I discovered there were more events here, that bring people together and united that are done communally, this was my “take home”.
Despite the misconceptions and perceptions about European countries, I am here to learn and unlearn how to connect the real world socially, culturally and physically to what I was thinking and for this I achieved. In my encounter to adventure, I take baby steps curiously and carefully bearing in mind that agriculture is not only about food production but also a well-built social and physical being. During my tours “Mr. Google maps” is my best friend and for sure he does not disappoint. The need to feed my other goals is evident and so I found exciting moments like watching a live football game in weserstadion Bremen, visiting the klimahaus and zoo in Bremerhaven, visiting the North Sea in Cuxhaven and participating in the Easter and maypole (maibaum) village events. For many German families, Easter is the first occasion to go outside to celebrate after a long winter. The children hunt for Easter eggs in the garden, while the adults go for walks to enjoy the mild spring air, amazing!
Indeed Germany is a home away from home, the exposure created, the networks formed, the skills and knowledge acquired, the company of nice people around me and the inspiration developed will all never leave me the same again. My story since joining the IYFEP has been so much enriching and nothing but the best. Thanks goes to Andreas Hermes Akademie (AHA) Schorlermer Foundation, German Farmers’ Association (DBV) (BMZ) and UNYFA, the opportunity was such a golden one.
For the past 3 months I have been situated at unique farm in the small village of Wulfshagenerhuitten in Schleswig-Holstein state of Northern Germany. Biohof Rzehak is an organic farm mainly dealing in dairy cattle, bull fattening, milk processing and direct marketing. It's run by Yannick Rzehak and Ana Kenner (hosts), alongside Tonia Rzehak (sister). The farm is unique because it's among the few farms run a community supported agriculture system that I found very interesting as customer are more closely related to the producer of their food stuffs.
Yannick and Ana are very hospitable and welcoming just from the first day. They both are fluent in English hence communication is always easy. They are a young couple in their 30s with a 7 month old baby, Jacob, who were all very nice to me from the word go. Alongside Harald and Anne Rzehak (hosts parents) and Tonia (sister) who were all very friendly and I was able to work alongside and learn alot from each member in the 3 months.
What I have loved about this internship is I have participated in almost every farm activity. Right from tractor driving in which I learnt to use both manual and semi automatic tractors and use implements like a front loader, round bale distributor, mower, raker, chain harrow etc. and learnt how to attach and disattach them. I thank the tenancity and patience of Yannick in particular for this. I also acquired the skills of using and cleaning a milk parlour (Ana's department), maintaining records of calves, feeding all cattle groups, fencing, simple farm repairs, rotational grazing, feed mixing, cleaning the barn and re-arranging straw beds.
In the other farm departments I participated in the milk processing unit (creamery) with activities like bottling, product labeling, yoghurt production, cheese making and preparing re-usuable glasses. I was also able in this way to participate in product delivery to the the different customers and stockists. So indeed it really was a wholesome experience.
In other affairs I was able to experience German culture and cuisine in many aspects. My hosts made sure every weekend we try to visit a new place and experience culture and diversity right from the "Moin Moin"-greeting of the North to visiting Hamburg with a city tour and visiting the grand opera, having a bike tour around Lüneburg and Lübeck, enjoyed the beachside in Kiel and "Strand" with interesting activities like stand-up peddling, experiencing Schokoladen (yes, learnt some words too!) tasting in Eckernförde, visited a Viking museum in Schleswig, tried beer tasting and different sausage varieties in which I loved Currywurst the most, participating in so many barbecues with friends and family among others. I will keep saying among others because I can't truly exhaust all I have learnt and experienced in my internship.
In conclusion, all good things at a point must come to an end but I have really learnt alot in my internship and wish it was longer, maybe I would even be able to write this article in Deutsch. Thank you Ana and Yannick, Thank you Schorlemer Stiftung, Thank you UNYFA, Thank you AHA. My heart is full. Tschüss!
As an enthusiastic young farmer from Uganda, I was very excited to be among the youth farmers selected to participate in the International Young Farmers Exchange Program (IYFEP) and I came to Germany open minded to learn as much as I could especially in the sector of livestock management and indeed I wasn’t disappointed. My three months period working and learning on the Germany farm has been worthwhile.
The farm I had the privilege to be hosted is a third generation family farm currently owned by Mr. Detlef Petersen located in a Nordhackstedt. The farm is seated on three hundred thirty hectares and has six employees. It has two hundred dairy cattle and two hundred fifty breeding pigs. The farm also grows an average of one hundred seventy hectares of maize, fifty hectares of cereals and one hundred ten hectares of grassland per year.
A typical day at the farm for me was getting up at 5.30am to feed the calves, cleaning the laying boxes and the cow shade and adding new straw to the laying boxes using a small tractor followed by breakfast at 7.30am which was preceded by work at the pig stables which included castrating piglets, inseminating the sows, cleaning the pig stables, sorting and transporting piglets to the different stables upon growth, feeding the sows, and administering iron to the piglets and antibiotics or hormones to the soon to deliver sows. At 4pm the day would then be crowned with feeding the calves, pushing the feedback to the cows and then cleaning the laying boxes and the cow shade and adding new straw to the laying boxes using a small tractor.
On top of that, I learnt a couple of other skills like repairing and building the cow laying boxes, repairing the automated pig feeding system, replacing blades on a grass cutting machine, operating various big machinery among others.
Apart from farm life, I was also able to get an opportunity to explore the cultural and social life of Germany. I was blessed to visit a number of cities and towns like Berlin, Hamburg, Flensburg, and Husum. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to visit the famous sand beach at Rømø on the Danish island in the Wadden Sea. I also visited the now famous town called Dagebüll near the dazzling North sea.
My experiences participating in the International Young Farmers Exchange Program are infinite but one thing is for sure, the mentorship, friendship, time, love and care I have received from every member of my host family, their friends and the whole team at the farm has been overwhelming and I will forever be grateful.
My name is Stewart Ategeka and I'm the proprietor of Chwezi Agribusiness Mavens which is mixed farm located in Rwemigali Village, Miirya Sub-County, Buruli County, Masindi District, with a vision aimed at improving rural livelihoods and creating sustainable food systems enhanced through innovative modern farming technologies and a mission aimed at promoting agroecological principles and rural entrepreneurship through capacity development and knowledge exchange through farm-to-farmer practical trainings. The farm sits on a total acreage of 15 acres with sugarcane being the main enterprise (7.5 acres). Other enterprises currently running include Maize and beans plus a Rabbit pilot project. Link: https://goo.gl/maps/MKfQFBqVa9TnUFHR9. I also work with EzyAgric as a product officer in charge of Agrishop and Better Ext. (E-Extension). EzyAgric is one of Africa’s leading Agri-Tech companies that is creating digital solutions across the entire Farming Value chain through the EzyAgric Farmer App and other Web-based solutions.
During the internship I am hosted by Käsehof-Rozenburg, which is a dairy farm with a farm shop located in Lower Saxony. For more than 30 years, the farm has been lovingly handcrafting every cheese in traditional recipes. It all starts with the production of fresh cow and goat milk on the farm with the utmost animal welfare treatment. The farm was founded in 1973 by Arie Berkhout and Leni Berkhout.
Describing the family by words is simply not enough! The humour, love and care all created a home away from home filled with wonderful memories that can be more heartfelt than a text explanation. It is a family of four: Dirk (father), Claudia (mother), Jan (oldest son) and Sven (youngest son).
I have been involved in a wide range of activities on the farm ranging from Milking, Feeding, Barn/stables Hygiene management, Dehorning, Hoof trimming, grouping of kids and calves, Herd health management; Pasture/Crop Fields- Planting, weed management, Manure spreading, grass mowing, baling, bale wrapping, transportation of bales from the fields to the farm.
I have also had an opportunity to get more hands-on training in Agricultural mechanization such as Tractor operation with different implements including the Baler, Bale Wrapper, Planter, Manure tanker, Roller, Mower, Tedder and Boom sprayer. It is unfortunate that the 3 months period seems to have been a little short for me to get a detailed understanding and ability to operate all the tractor implements on farm but at least it has been long enough to give me the most valuable basics!
As an Agri-Tech enthusiast, I used the opportunity to dig into the I.T systems being used on farm. The Farm shop has a website (https://www.kaesehofladen.de/) with an ordering section where customers can place orders for cheese and it is shipped to them or simply pre-ordered for packaging into parcel and picked up later. It is not only a marketing tool but also an order management system. Müller-Elektronik system that is used on tractors to make tracks is such a system that can be localized into GPS coordinates markings on any app for field activity monitoring and management.
Other apps used on farm include PlantNet (for weed identification), 365FarmNet for Farm management (Grass lands and Crop lands) and DeLaval DelPro™ Companion for Livestock Management. All these have given me more insights into the use of I.T in Agriculture. I am optimistic that EzyAgric Farmer app that I work with in Uganda will benefit from my experience!
Cultural activities and cultural shocks!
I have had the opportunity to visit a number of cities in Germany, these include: The Famous Pilsum Light house, Aurich District main city, Greetsiel, Juist Island and of course The Berlin tour during the Mid-Term Review seminar.
Of course, every Ugandan is used to having bread only for breakfast or evening tea, not as a main meal for Lunch or dinner which is the case in Germany. I'm glad that my host family leveraged the situation by having a wide variety of bread and bread spreads/dressings such as Meat Salad. This gave my bread a Ugandan feel and all was well. I would also be wrong to say that I ate a lot of bread on a daily, the food alternation within the course of every week was sufficient.
Just like the saying goes in my culture “Amagezi go’mukuru Mukaro, Buli Bwoijuka Nonenaho”. Translated: Knowledge shared by an elder is like roasted meat, each time you remember it, you take a bite. Farmers who have been practicing farming for a considerable time have much experience and are very resourceful to the young generation. They have mastered the art of simplifying tasks and increasing efficiency. Right from day one, aligning my pants into my Gumboots would take me more time but then Dirk showed me the easy way to go about it. You simply hold and twist the bottom of the trouser to one side and slide your foot into the Gumboot. This way you do not have to struggle pushing your pants into the boots. And just to give you some more examples:
- While cleaning the calf pens, I was trying to grab heavy straw piles onto the Fork. This made the task seem hectic. Dirk showed me the easy way to do it by taking it off layer by layer just like peeling an onion, this way it was very easy.
- Using a wheelbarrow: When it is empty, it is wise to drive it from your back so that when you return to wherever you are picking any load, it faces in the direction you will be taking the new load without having to turn around a loaded wheelbarrow.
- Working with cows: In order not to frighten the cows and cause commotion, it is wise not to look directly into the eyes of the cows (Direct eye-contact), pretend to look down but keeping an angle look to whatever you are looking for e.g., a specific cow. While trying to lead cows to a specific direction, if a cow wants to cross your pass, it is some times as easy as “Making yourself a very Huge guy” by raising your arms to like a big statue. This scares the cow and it turns back.
“I love Working but not toiling”, a wonderful quote from Dirk, this will always guide me a lot on how I execute any task. Finding the smartest way to do things without wasting any energy. There is a lot more to share but to sum it up all, advice from an elder/experienced person is that anyone should treat as points of paramount significance if critically analyzed and associated with solving day-to-day life problems.
It's a great pity that the Covid situation made the social life outside farming very complicated since gatherings were restricted. Too bad that I have not been able to fully experience “side B” of Germany.
For any young farmer thinking about getting more exposure in Agriculture, there is no other destination other than Germany that you can think about. There is a lot you will learn from the German farmers right from the technology, farming systems and way of life of a typical farmer. At the end of the program, you will have realized that you haven’t been a real farmer but rather a part time farmer. Your mindset and attitude towards work will not remain the same. “There is no bad weather but there is bad clothing”. Implying that you have no excuse to skip working simply because of bad weather. A big lesson for a young farmer like me.
Special thanks to UNYFA, AHA-Andreas Hermes Akademie, Schorlemer Stiftung, Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) for supporting me and other Ugandan Young farmers to have such a great opportunity to participate in this wonderful internship program.
The Young Farmers Federation of Uganda (UNYFA) and Schorlemer stiftung of the DBV organised and Appretinceship under the International Young Farmers Exchange Program where I have participated. The program started on 8th April 2021 and will end on 5th July 2021. I was hosted on a fruit farm in the North Rhine Westfalia called Felten Fruit Farm.
In Uganda, I own a company called Cypriano Enterprises under which I carry out different agricultural activities. Cypriano Enterprises is a fruit and vegetable production and processing company located at Lugo–Butambala District. The company was envisioned out of desire attend to food security and farmer needs for a better living. In 2010 we started with the production of passion fruits and vegetables working with small holder farmers to bulk the production and take to the market for sale. Later in 2011, we expanded into processing juice concentrate from passion fruits grown to add value.
Currently, the company also offers agribusiness trainings and advisory services to farmers. Cypriano Enterprises aims at offering the best passion fruit juice concentrate and fresh vegetables and fruits with utmost customer satisfaction to uplift farmers’ living conditions.
The farm is located in the western part of Germany 20 minutes away from Bonn and south of the city Cologne. The farm is seated on 24 hectares with fruits occupying 22 hectares and vegetables 2 hectares. The fruit farmer Manfred Felten now runs the farmin the 3rd generation and in addition to his work on the farm and in the orchards, he takes care of the fruit growing -offspring as an active members of the Audit committee of the Chamber of Agriculture. The farm grows fruits such as Apples, pears, cherries, plums and strawberries. Freshly harvested products are served daily in the companys farm shop.
The company employs two Appretinces for the profession of gardener specialised in fruit growing. The farm also hires seasonal workers especially during harvesting time.
My activities on the farm
The farm has a number of activities depending on the seasonal. However, I have participated in all the farm activities which include Spraying, slashing orchards, thinning fruits, controlling rodents like mice in orchards, irrigating orchards, weeding strawberry tunnels, harvesting strawberries and cherries, leaning machinery on farm, collecting farm shop vegetables from the whole sale fruit and vegetable market in Köln and planting strawberries. On a "typical day" we have breakfast at 7.00 a.m. and work starts at 8.00 a.m., one hour lunch break at 12.00 p.m and finish work at 5.00 p.m.
Lessons learnt and Experiences here in Germany...
I see a lot a lot of mechanisation in Germany compared to Uganda where we use rudimentary tools, this has exposed me to use of machinery which I did know before and thus I have gained experience in operating machinery such as tractors. Among this there is use of technology in farming such as use of temperature meters, moisture meters and having automated systems especially in green houses. In Germany farmers are licenced to grow certain crops or rear animals hence a farmers does grow any crop without a licence for it and having technical knowledge about it.
What is also different between Uganda and Germany and which is also important for who does farming as a business is that there are also good agricultural financing policies such as affordable Agricultural loans of 1% interest rate compared to Uganda which has between 18-21% and also grants offered by government to farmers.
I also experienced direct marketing at Felten where they sell what they produce and growing specific varieties of crops that meet customers tastes and preferences. My host family is very welcoming and friendly and I live with them as a family member in terms of having meals together, enjoying parties together among others. I also have been exposed to new food such as Asparagus, eating cold food (we always eat warm food!), eating bread as food and also hard bread. I also like the good transport system such as use of electric trains that allow you to travel from one place to another quickly.
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.
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.