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Wed, 28 Dec 2016 11:10 - Updated Wed, 28 Dec 2016 11:57

Ex-combatant, an example of perseverance

Cuito - If history left indelible marks of the days when people had to flee for their lives or seek to fight the bullets that flew in all directions, with landmines scattered everywhere in a pure survival effort, right now the situation has changed.

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A rice field

Photo: Tarcisio Vilela

Ex-combatant and chairman of Tukuatise Field School Association, Augusto Dias Sanene Manuel

Photo: Tarcisio Vilela

By Adriano Chisselele

With the Government’s effort to clear the country of landmines, a new era of hope is perceived in the faces of the Bienians. With hoes and cutlasses in hand, people get back to the fields to grow the crops for their sustaining the way they learned from their ancestors.

An example of this individual and collective motivation can be seen in the municipality of Chitembo, some 150 kilometres of central Bie province’s capital city, Cuito.

“Agriculture is the predominant activity of this population. Fishing is also practiced. Subsistence farming for some families, but there are farmers using a bit more mechanised and industrialised means. These we call small scale farmers,” say Chitembo deputy administrator, Celestina Nacomo. 

Maize, soya beans , rice and beans are the most relevant crops in Chitembo.

The municipal administration has been on the vanguard in boosting and promoting a diversified agriculture , for which more than 20 farm schools and 28 associations have emerged to enhance the production of vegetables and honey.

Farmers have received fertilizers, ammonia and other inputs with some regularity in order to improve production. The breeding of animals, such as cattle, goats, pigs and birds, is also dominant in this part of Bié.

According to Faustino Satchilembo, municipal director of the Agrarian Development Station (EDA), the population of goats in Chitembo is estimated at 2,445, while pigs reach 6,000 to 7,000 specimen and 1,181 cattle. These animals meet the consumption needs of the municipality.

As for the production of rice, a crop that was much grown in the  colonial era, Faustino Satchilembo said some farmers develop this activity with a great vigour, given the favorable climate and soil conditions.

"At the moment, we have designated four hectares for the production of rice: a field in the locality of Utale and here, in the headquarters of Chitembo. In the agricultural season that ended, there was a  production of 1,700 kilograms  on a hectare field, the official stated.

“The prospect is to increase production more and more. We want to increase from four to 10 or 12 hectares this year and so on," he said.

Growing rice requires special care so that the plant grows naturally. As a result, technicians from the Institute for Agrarian Development (IDA) and Spanish professionals have given instructions on how to sow and monitor the development of this crop.

Augusto Dias - the great winner

Augusto Dias Sanene Manuel, a former combatant, says that when the war ended in the country, he did not know what to do, even because he is amputated of both lower limbs.

Life seemed devastated. But not! He knew in his heart that he could move forward.

He lifted his head and shoulders and began working. He "dived" into the cultivation of rice, as he did not want to leave the legacy of his  parents in the hands of others. It all started with a training encouraged by the Uongo locality administration.

Hence, despite the disability, he engaged, with the help of some young people, in the cultivation of this crop much consumed in Angola.

"We have already cultivated and harvested a thousand kilos of rice here," says Augusto Dias Sanene Manuel, who is also the president of the Association of the “Tukuatise” Field School in the Kapango neighborhood.

The experimental harvest motivates him to continue. As a legacy, he has been teaching young people to work so they understand that only with work can people feel useful in society.

"This association started with 15 young people. We are always training, and now we are 30. Young people are more interested. Even minors also want to cultivate, but they are not allowed. They are small," says Augusto Dias, clearly pleased to have faced the barriers of physical disability with his eyes on the future.

The president of the “Tukuatise” Association therefore appeals to other citizens, particularly those with disabilities not to think they are useless, extending their hand  in cities of the country, as there is always  something to be done for the sustenance and rising of self-esteem.

"The war destroyed many areas, victimised many people. I was mutilated, but as our elders taught us to cultivate, we have to cultivate our land. We must rebuild our country and produce our lands to improve the economy of the country," he said.

Tags Agriculture  

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