Our Demonstration Plots in the village have been doing quite well, producing right now about 15 vegetables (listed below), and identifying others that simply do not grow well here on the Imbo Plain next to the lake. The menu of the Hotel is benefitting and many compliments are being given on the appearance of organic vegetables in the cuisine.
As well, interest in the village is growing as people see that not only could they grow a number of vegetables with a guaranteed market at the Hotel, but that any excess production can be quickly sold in the Bujumbura markets.
The major issue in seriously involving villagers is the overwhelming dominance now of local amaranths, which is easy to grow and can be sold in the urban markets after 3 weeks. But the price at 300 a bunch is far less than, for example, our English spinach and kale, which sells at 500 a bunch and is much in demand. As well, once established, both the English spinach and the kale plants can be continually harvested for many months.
The crops that have been successful and that have been supplying the kitchen of the Hotel include:
- Italian lettuce (rocket)
- English spinach
- Kenya Kale (sukuma-wiki)
- Tomatoes from the States (very tasty)
- Courgette flowers
- Armenian cucumbers
- Regular cucumbers
- Improved amaranth
- Colocase (taro)
- Local eggplant (garden eggs)
- Italian ‘seedless’ eggplant
- Red onions
- Livingstone potatoes (indigenous potatoes)
Those that have not been successful include the following, mainly because of climate/temperature:
We also have various seed varieties that we are testing.
The focus for the vegetables is to select varieties or types that are not grown here – like the seedless eggplant or rocket lettuce – but that are in demand and are appreciated by clients who eat at the Hotel.and that also can be easily sold by the farmers in markets in the town, if the Hotel kitchen is ‘saturated.”
I now feel more comfortable involving our local farmers in cultivating vegetables that we have shown will grow well in the Demonstration Plot, especially given the conservatism of village folks to stray from ‘known’ crops – mainly local amaranth.. The demonstration plot has been an excellent vehicle both for testing and for demonstration.
The rainy season has arrived with a vengeance, and by consequence about 1/3 of the demonstration plot was inundated for about a week, drowning those plants. The water began to recede – and then several more days of very heavy rains together with a malfunctioning barrage upcountry that controls water in this area. By consequence, we were visited with a little lake for a few days that has done terrible damage, except to the rice crops.
I have negotiated with a village neighbor to use his large, lovely plot to start more contract farming plots. It is located above the flooding area, but still has a high water table and so shallow, hand-dug wells will be possible.
Over this week I will discuss with the women who have signed contracts but whose fields have been under water their taking a small plot in the new area for the program.