In many rural communities, agriculture is the main source of income and in some areas, it is the means by which people subsist. Many of these communities are in areas affected by environmental degradation and climate change. Access to up-to-date information can be transformational. Books have an important role in providing people with the knowledge and skills to cope with degradation and protect their crops and animals.
Julius Nemisano lives in a small village several hours from the eastern city of Mbale. The area is rural, and most people are subsistence farmers. Food shortages are common, and many struggle to feed and educate their families.
Julius founded the Lukhonge Community Library to provide local people with access to books and information. Here, Julius tells us how he is using the books we send to support local farmers:
Here, like everywhere, we are experiencing climate change and if you are not careful, you’ll not get any yield. To tackle this problem, you must be well informed and to be well informed, you must read.
So we are using books that Book Aid International has donated to train farmers.
For example, this manual helps farmers make their own compost manure. Following the instructions in this book, you are likely to increase the yield of a field by twenty times. Without compost, you will not get anything.
How to control Striga and stemborer in maize was also donated by Book Aid International and it is giving our farmers the knowledge to control striga in maize. Now, farmers don’t need an agriculture officer. After reading this, they can identify the pests, parasites and viruses that attack their maize on their own.
We also have books helping our people to learn how to plant their fields, how to plant their trees, how to improve their watersheds. In our region fresh water comes from the mountains and we have to protect these watersheds so we can continuously keep getting water.
Books are enabling the local population to learn more about climate change and its effects:
You get books about climate change and climate mitigation and when you read those books, you realise that there is a problem with climate change – that’s why some of the plants that used to grow in the wilderness are no longer there.
For Julius, books are also an important way of sharing knowledge and benefitting from the experience of other communities:
When I read a book by a person from another culture, I can learn from their particular knowledge, so that we can also learn brand new methods to protect our environment.
In Mbale, the ability to read is a vital tool to agricultural success and for passing knowledge on to the next generation:
Now, our readers, first of all they learn how to read and after learning how to read, then they read to learn. Once they read to learn, they can now read on their own and improve on their lives. We train our children, the youth, because these youth are the people who will make tomorrow. Through reading, you can learn how to tame this bad environment.
Because of Book Aid International, I’ve learned that really anything written is very very important. It can change your life forever.
Watch a short film about Julius here.