Moringa leaves, Jun. 3, 2002
Kouamba Matondo Annette

BRAZZAVILLE â€" In the area around the Congolese capital of Brazzaville, it's common practice to burn vegetation in fields before planting crops. But this slash-and-burn approach inflicts severe damage to the forests and the soil, not to mention to the health of women, who are the primary farmers in this area.

"The placement of these lands under fallow until they regenerate, forces women to regularly move away from the lands," says Marguerite Homb, president of a non-profit organization called Health and Nature. "They sometimes use too many chemical products at the risk of their own health.”

Homb says the women are only doing what they know, but that much of the harm could be avoided with the use of an organic fertilizer called moringa, a plant native to these parts of Africa that has many beneficial properties.

"We've been using it as a fertilizer for our own crops since 2005, and we've never had to change lands," she says. "We cultivate every year on the same parcel. We also make compost with moringa seeds mixed with other substances."

Homb says it could be a "farewell" to pesticides, inappropriate herbicides, polluting chemical fertilizers and slash-and-burn practices in general.

Moringa plantation, Sep. 3, 2002 â€" Photo: Books For Life

In the district of Madimbu, the training center St. Joseph de Mbouono has also embraced the environmentally friendly moringa. "We use the dead leaves to fertilize the soil," explains center coordinator François Xavier Mifoundou.

Still, some cultivators are hesitant to put the recommendations into practice. "When you ask them to use natural fertilizers, they think it's a waste of time," Mifoundou says. "What they want is to harvest quickly. What matters to them is to quickly make a profit."

Idriss M’Bouka, a geophysics PhD student at Marien Ngouabi University, praises this approach â€" and encourages women to abandoned slash-and-burn agriculture, which he says deteriorates the soil and ecosystem.

Mifoundou says moringa has other uses too. "To protect crops against insects, we immerse moringa leaves in water for a few days. The liquid we obtain enables us to treat the crops. It's also an incredible feed for chickens."

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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