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Playing with rabbits October 16th, 2014 by

Not all farmer experiments entail such a leap of imagination that they count as inventions, but some do, and I saw one last month in Mali, in a village called Togo.

Togo is a large village with a stone church, topped with a blue and white statue of the Virgin Mary. We met in the home of Dubassi Jean-Jacques Dacko, who is an important local leader (the vice president of the council of the Cercle of Tominian). Two other men and four women came to our meeting.

The people organized themselves into various church, civic and work groups as well as a youth group that plays cards, but also exchanges labor.

The people of Togo, Mali, saw a set of videos on Fighting Striga, a nasty weed. The folks had their own copy of the DVD and watched the videos many times in their own language, which is called Bomu. One of these videos was on how to make compost, to put it on cereal crops, as a way of managing striga.

One young man, Léwa Kamaté, who belonged to the card players’ group, took us to see his compost pit, in his onion garden. The compost was for vegetables, not to control striga in sorghum. Léwa saw in the videos that the compost pit should be covered with straw. So he covered his compost with a living layer of sweet potato plants. I had never seen a compost pit covered in living plants before, certainly not in Mali, and I have seen a lot of compost.

From time to time Léwa pulls off some small leaves and feeds them to his rabbits. Later he can compost the rabbit dung. He’s got a complete system of compost to sweet potatoes to rabbits, and back to compost, which is quite a stretch from what he saw in the videos.

Creativity can be linked to the playful imagination of games. Maybe LĂ©wa and his young friends are onto a good idea, combining work and card games.

To see the video on compost that LĂ©wa watched, in English, click here

To see a video on feeding rabbits, click here

To learn how to build a house for rabbits, click here

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