Simbiri Health Centre has a reasonable amount of land behind the staff residences – about the size of two football pitches. This was not used until funds became available in 2013 to start a farm project. For the relatively small sum of £250, the land was cleared and planted mainly with maize (a staple crop in the area) but also with some vegetables. The first harvest was poor due to very sparse rains. However, the second crop at the end of 2013 was very good. We continue to plant and harvest two crops per year.
The aim of the farm project is to reduce the cost of food we provide to the patients. For example, the amount of maize harvested each year is sufficient to supply about three months worth of maize used by the Health Centre. So, this is a good saving on the amount of maize we need to buy. The cooks also report that the amount spent on buying vegetables has drastically reduced since we now grow various vegetables.
Joseph, our mortician, is also an expert in growing local produce. He has taken over the role of farm manager in addition to his role as mortician.
Also in 2013, 50 banana tress were planted in various other parts of the site – for example, some were placed next to the meeting hut. These take about 18 months to bear fruit. When Tim was in Simbiri in October 2014 he was privileged to witness the first bunches of bananas being harvested. The trees all look very healthy and productive.
The farm project is an exciting one as it provides varied food for the patients and reduces the costs to the Health Centre. Plans for the future, when funds become available, include:
- To improve the scope and diversity of the vegetables that we grow.
- To have a small fish farm on site.
- To plant various other fruit trees around the site – to enhance the look of the site as well as to provide food!