Krishna Consciousness & Ecological Awareness


Working Villages International
January 6, 2009, 10:08 am
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Article from the Working Villages International website.

There are few places on Earth like the Ruzizi Valley. The average temperature remains around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 C) year round. There is plentiful water, rich volcanic soil and four growing seasons. Twenty years ago the valley was covered with fertile farms and pastures and healthy herds of cows. Ten years of brutal war destroyed all this.

Today, the people of the Ruzizi Valley, in partnership with Working Villages International (WVI) have begun implementing an innovative yet practical economic model of sustainable village development just outside the town of Luvungi. WVI is building from scratch a model village which will have full employment, and private ownership of small farms and businesses. It is a village designed for maximum harmony with the environment. This project is a practical demonstration that it’s possible to profoundly increase living standards in rural Africa by relying on local resources and skills, enhanced by modern appropriate technology.
It is astounding to see what has happened since our Ruzizi Valley project kicked off in spring 2006. The once-abandoned land is now full of productive activity and lush crops. Our enthusiastic staff, led by our expert agronomist and project manager, Fiston Malago, have cultivated over a hundred acres of land, growing over 90 different varieties of organic crops.

We renovated our headquarters and built a gazebo and kitchen using local materials and local expertise. In preparation for the Ruzizi Valley’s short dry season, the workers completed an ambitious irrigation network to supply water for one hundred acres of thirsty crops. The harvests have been flourishing, and our goal of food self-sufficiency is nearly complete. That will allow WVI to fully feed its workers and their families and still have a large surplus left over to help alleviate food shortages within the Valley. It will also allow for an expansion in the number of workers we can employ.

The fertile soil of Ruzizi has helped make the organic harvests of WVI spectacular: corn 14 feet high, sunflowers three times the size of a man’s head, 12 pound cabbages, sweet and delicious melons, and a wide variety of other delicious vegetables and fruits. Over a dozen varieties of colorful flowers beautify the gardens and inspire the workers.

 

All this food and the construction of the support buildings will help the Ruzizi Project push forward to its next stage – the construction of the houses and workshops and public buildings that will make up the new village. At this point foundations have been laid for twelve houses, and for three of these, the walls have already been built.

 In addition we will improve the productivity of the village by introducing draft animal power in the form of oxen. Our new teamsters (men and women) are already showing their expertise in building a solid relationship of loyalty with the oxen, so that they can guide them as they wish, using only voice commands. Once the animals are sufficiently grown to pull equipment, this careful training will make a huge difference, as they are very willing and capable workers.

 

At $12 dollars a gallon, the price of gasoline is too high to be the basis of village economy, so oxen will have an important role to play in increasing productivity. In plowing, transport and construction, oxen will reduce the burden of labor and increase its value, thus increasing the wealth and well-being og the community. 

After ten years of devastating war, peace is returning to this little part of Congo. The villagers of Luvungi are hopeful that when they have a new village and a flourishing economy, the tragedy which claimed the lives of 5 million of their countrymen will never again come to their beautiful valley.

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