Zet Timaubas is a 41 -year-old farmer in Meobesi hamlet who lives with his wife, Safira Kase, who is 39, and their four children: Frederik, who is 17; Maria, who is 14; Martha, who is 10 and, last but not least, Yosina Timaubas, whose first birthday the family recently celebrated. Like many others in his hamlet and others nearby, Zet was quite happy to join a hands-on training program to improve the results – more and better variety and quality vegetables than he has ever been able to grow in the past. In fact, for decades, Zet has grown mustard, spinach and water spinach to feed his family – but without much technical knowledge about how vegetables can thrive. And, until CWS team members assessed that Meobesi villagers were quite vulnerable – yet willing and able to benefit from some technical assistance – Zet and others had never received any assistance from the district government agriculture office team. But, that is changing now too; and, with CWS support and encouragement, everyone is learning together.
For generations, vegetable gardening has been individual: each family kept its own garden and grew what they could, based on their families’ past practices. All planting was seasonal, starting when rainy season began and ending before the long, severe dry season, when water was simply not available. Also, in recent decades, government ag extension workers haven’t provided help, either; certainly not for making and using organic fertilizer and organic pest control. Also, CWS team members knew that they weren’t up to date on advances in soil preparation, using raised beds and planting seeds or seedlings with optimum spacing. Or, if they did have this information and knowledge, they were not motivated, or properly supported, to share it.
But, everything is changing now for Zet, his family and all who are participating in Timor Zero Hunger activities and learning. Since the initiative has been underway in Meobesi for just a few months, families have not seen significant changes yet; still, Zet is grateful to CWS for the opportunity to acquire new knowledge about modern farming practices. “After joining the 3-day training workshop and field work, I will now form a farmer group in my hamlet with 12 other trainees. And, now that we have learned so much, and can continue to learn and share, the ag field agents have promised to assist us throughout our group’s planning for improved gardening in a community demonstration plot on land that I own. And while our garden grows, together, we can monitor our progress and make changes, with CWS staff and government ag workers’ advice and help. Since my plot has nearly year-round water too, which is unusual, we can work throughout the year as a group. I am thankful for the opportunity that CWS has given me to receive this agricultural training. “Hopefully, through this activity, the other farmer group members and I will have a better future for our families”, Zet concluded.
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