On the 7thMarch 2019, the Imvotho Bubomi Learning Network held their first meeting of the year.  The meeting was attended by a large number of members including new and old from all over the Amatole district. There was a good mix of extension workers, farmers, lecturers, researchers and students who attended the discussion. The large number of attendees showed the continued strength of the learning network in the area.

The meeting was incredibly fruitful in setting new goals for the IBLN in the Raymond Mhlaba community for 2019.  Attendees discussed the potential activities and workshops that would be held over the following months. Members wished to put the skills that they had learned through the Training of Trainers (TOT) course (held in 2018) into practice by holding demonstrations to teach community members and new farmers about various water harvesting practices. It was discussed that it would be very beneficial for the graduates of the TOT course to demonstrate different water-saving practices ( for example trench beds, mulching, tower gardens, and contouring, to name just a few), therefore exposing local farmers to a diverse number of practices which they could employ in their own farming. The members divided themselves according to the geographic areas in with they farmed or worked and agreed to organize one demonstration in that area per quarter for the remainder of the year. These demonstrations will be shared with all stakeholders in the area to encourage knowledge sharing around water-saving practices.

The Imvotho Bubomi Learning Network further discussed ideas around how to share the success of the network. One suggestion being to enter the success stories that have emerged out of the learning network into an international competition. This idea will be lead by researchers from Rhodes University.

The learning network meeting was successful in discussing the progress that has been made in the learning network over the last few years while also providing a space where the participants were able to forecast the future of the group. This meeting, hosted by Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry Training Institute showed renewed interest and excitement around the prospects and ideas for the learning network for 2019.

We look forward to what lies in store for this innovative network in 2019.

Written by Sarah Durr