The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on August 31, 1975 · Page 28
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August 31, 1975

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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 28

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 31, 1975
Page 28
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Page 28 article text (OCR)

in Zaire use modern methods to boost food output C • DBS MOINE8 SUNDAY MGISTCT • Attt^t 31. \m leetiet meet* VANGA, ZAIRE - When Dair and Grace Mozcna came to this vast central African nation from the Iowa farmlands where they grew up, they didn't know much about tropical agriculture. Now, as they begin their second year as Peace Corps volunteers here on the banks of the Kwilu River, the couple can claim some expertise in the subject. "We're not going to change the world, but we will help change some things," said Dan, who helps run a rabbit f and poultry production center in the impoverished Band- undu region. Most Zairians still practice ancient ways of farming that yield only a meager existence from the land and fail to produce enough food for a growing population of 21 million. The Mozenas' project is designed to help them boost food production, particularly the availability of protein- rich foods, and at the same time increase farm income. Dtmomtration farm From their base of'oper- ations at the Vanga Baptist mission, the Mozenas- have" turned the rabbit and poultry center into an effective and growing demonstration farm for the 500 villagers in the region. The project is a natural, they feel. Not only are chickens and rabbits easy to raise, but the people like them, providing growers with a ready market. The project consisted of about 250 rabbits, with 10 or 15 chickens running around. "There were holes in the cages and the rabbits were breeding all the time. There were several deaths a week of the rabbits. There were so many workers that not much got done. No one had been in charge in months," Dan recalled. Nor were there any productivity records or bookkeeping system, added Grace, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Feeney of Bernard, la. She is a 1971 graduate of the University of Iowa, where she majored in elementary education. • Dan, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ken Mozena of Dubuque, graduated from Iowa State University in 1970 and received his master's degree in public administration and political science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1973. Mad* inventory Grace immediately set about introducing a bookkeeping procedure, productivity charts and cost sheets. She also made an inventory of all materials on hand and became the custodian of supplies, handing out nails, wire, machetes and other tools to workers at the center. Dan worked with his Zairian counterpart to institute a controlled breeding schedule for the rabbits, tagging the adults to distinguish males from females. Their litters, weights and feed are carefully recorded. With Grace's charts hanging on the cages, one can calculate exactly how much it costs to raise each individual rabbit to whatever age. A similar system-was worked out for determining the cost of raising the chickens. Dan also set up a brooder, which is now producing dozens of baby chicks. Once vaccinated, the chickens — mostly Rhode Island Reds — are sold to villagers at cost. One of the Mozenas' biggest challenges is getting proper feed for the chickens. Dan finds himself constantly juggling the rations, trying to give them "everything they need protein-wise without it becoming too costly." Corn, soybeans and peanuts are available, but fish rneal, vitamins and salt blocks must be brought from Kinshasa, the capital city, some 300 miles away. Make up rations "It's not like back home where you call up and order what you need," said Grace, whose father owns a feed store. "That little store probably has more commercial feed than in all of Zaire. Here we have to make up our own rations." Mainly because there is no problem with rabbit feed, that part of the project already pays for itself, "We sell about 50 Zaires ($100) a month of rabbits. We're just now'getting off the ground with the chickens," said Dan, who estimates that of the birds sold so far, two-thirds will go toward improving local flocks and one-third for consumption. His most important task now, he said, is to create an ^tension program that will Involve individual farmers in nearby villages. During frequent trips around the countryside, he and his assistant seek 'people who show an interest in pursuing the project. The two men teach them the proper care and feeding of the animals as, well as how to build eager with local materials. "I really think we're .going to make a contribution," Dan observed. "We'll do it by skipping the middle level and working directly with Individ- ual farmers on a one-to-one basis." In the long run, he would like to see an extension training program which would attract people to work in agriculture and teach them how to do effective extension work. As it stands now, agriculture is considered by many here as the bottom rung of the occupational ladder. Since 80 per cent of the people live on the land, most of them subsistence farmers, there is a critical need for extension services, he aald. Living and working in a developing nation is not an entirely new experience for the Mozenas, who participated In the 4-H Foundation's International Farm Youth Exchange program in 1970. Dan (pent six months in Nepal and Grace six months in. Thailand. Their experiences whetted their desire to "learn, about another land" and share their knowledge with others. . , Joining the Peace Corps was a natural outgrowth of their interest in international affairs, said Dan, who would like to join the foreign service or work in international business when his Peace Corps service ends next year. Grace plans to pursue a career in elementary education. The Mozenas speak* both French, the official language of Zaire, and Kituba, the local language in the Vanga area. . _ Volunteer Dan Mozena and a Zairian villager inspect a rabbit's health as part of a rabbit and chicken raising project to boost food production in the impoverished region. rli'/.'!.' 1 " OPEN LABOR DAY 9 ajii. to 6 pjn Slid* SPRED SATIN • The savings story of the year! Glidden's Premium Latex Wall Paint at an unbelievably low price! • FAMOUS Spred Satin Latex Wall Paint... renowned for its performance and durability. 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