Following an interesting blog and links by NIBBLES about perennial maize, and my curiosity peaked as to possible interest with our farmers here, I spent some time yesterday afternoon in the village discussing with cultivators what they thought of the idea.
The results were mixed: pros – cons – unsure:
- Would save time in planting
- Possible destruction from our very heavy rains and winds
- Loss of materials for livestock feed
- Loss of materials for fuel and building
- Difficulty of planting such crops in areas not owned or rented by the cultivator (a major problem in this land-strapped country)
Neutral: Folks wanted to think about it more…For example –
- How would it behave during our 4 months of dry time?
- Problems of pests if it is always growing?
- Is it like sorghum and millet, which are cut back after harvest to regrow the next rains?
- Would there be types for low/high altitudes; different weather patterns, etc?
This was a completely non-randomized sampling from a half-dozen smallholders who are ‘professional’ cultivators, both women and men. They will continue thinking about it… preferably over some beer, as last evening…
The link to animal traction brought up in NIBBLES, is simply not an issue because there are no traction animals in Burundi – and the likelihood of their being in the future is close to zero.
Totally absent tradition, lack of fodder, difficult terrain, and security are amongst the difficulties. For a few years I owned the only donkey in the country with a view to training it to harness for use in the IMBO lowlands along the lake, but this simply was not possible because Ana the âne raised such curiosity that people either drove off the road staring at here – or otherwise created a nuisance…
Ultimately, I gave her away as a pet to some folks…