Up to now, our agricultural efforts have been thwarted by a combination of poor soil, very hot weather, irregular rain, locusts, and our own inexperience.
At last, we seem to be getting to grips with the challenge.
Looking towards the river from the middle of the Village, there is a patchwork of vegetable beds providing greens for the children to eat on a daily basis. This patchwork extends down to the river, then along the river bank in either direction.
We do our best to irrigate this area through a combination of basins that capture rainwater, plus twice a week pumping water from the river itself.
Beyond the vegetable area and to either side are a mass of pineapples. Pineapples grow in very hot circumstances and are drought resistant. They crop every second year and are very tasty. We eat them in the Village and sell the surplus in markets in Mkuranga, Dar es Salaam and also to a local boarding school. The only downside is the price; because not much else can grow in this region, there is a glut. A pineapple currently sells locally for about 33p.
We have however had success with growing our own crop of Okra. This means we can provide more vegetables for the children at the village, as well as look to selling a wider variety of crops in future to work towards our aim of becoming self sufficient. We also have it on authority, our Okra is delicious!
As well as vegetables, we carefully irrigate a grove of young papaya trees. They were planted in July 2018 and will begin to provide fruit from March to June of 2019. Each young tree is in its own little bed of fertilized soil, and we drip feed water to each one for an hour in the morning and again in the evening.
If we had more money, what would we do? Three priorities stand out:
- We should plant more trees. Their deep roots help them weather the droughts and provide fruit or nuts for a long time.
- We would like to provide more irrigation, probably with another borehole. Rain harvested in basins evaporates, and the basins need to be managed to avoid becoming infected with mosquitoes. Boreholes tap into water that seems plentiful if we go deep enough and is available when we most need it.
- We would like to selectively add more manure (cow and chicken) so that the vegetable beds have enough nutrient to keep feeding the plants.
At the moment we are trying to raise money through our Christmas appeal to pay for more crops so we can continue to try and be self sufficient, as well as things like education and healthcare.
Our Christmas appeal runs until December 13, and trustees have pledged all your donations will be matched during that period (until we reach £11,000). To donate please visit https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/9062 and share our post