Contract Farming – Dry Season Begins

This week and next we’re seeing the beginning of the dry season, which is the best growing period here along Lake Tanganyika where we have shallow wells for easy watering and where almost all of the farms have small plots.

One of the shallow, hand dug well used in the project

The last months of abnormally heavy rains have been hard on the area.  On three different occasions our Contract Farming (CF) gardens have been flooded out – the negative side of having a shallow water table.  If not washed out, most of the crops have withered away from having ‘wet feet’ – a fact that during the dry season helps tremendously to encourage proper growth in our sandy soils and hot climate.

Every few years rains flood the village and surrounding gardens, causing houses (made of mud bricks) to tumble and gardens to die.

Some of the seedlings that were destroyed by the heavy rains

Young sukuma wiki (collards) on the left, mulched with rice straw, and young spinach on the right.

Our farmers planted the following during the rainy months, and all are doing well except for the tomatoes, which seem still unhappy from too-wet feet.

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini (for their flowers as well as the fruit)
  • Melons – water and a honey melon
  • Colocase (taro)
  • Spinach (though not a good variety, we have discovered)
  • Gourds – local varieties

Chef Richard of the Hotel Lac Tanganyika left yesterday to visit his family in Kenya, and he will be bringing us back a variety of seeds that are not available here, including:

  • Okra
  • Spinach – long leaf
  • Sukuma Wiki (a variety of collards)
  • Tomatoes – cherry
  • Tomatoes – for sauces
  • Celery – long
  • Leeks
  • Peppers – red, green and yellow
  • Spring onions
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram
  • Coriander

 Seed development in Kenya to provide varieties suitable for different agro-zones is excellent, and Chef Richard will select seeds that are appropriate for our sandy, hot-humid area, which would be similar to seeds used along the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya.  Most of the seeds here are simply imported ‘helter-skelter’ from Europe and often sold with no idea of attribution.  This is yet another problem of a country struggling out of years of war.

Our four new farmers are anxious to sign their contracts and get going, which I don’t want to do until we’re absolutely sure there are to be no more heavy rains. Perhaps next Monday will be the signing day.

The Hotel, which buys the vegetables, will soon be having good quantities of produce and the producers are always happy for the guaranteed money that they make, which goes to family and schooling.

Spinach delivered fresh from the gardens being prepared in the Hotel kitchen

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About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
This entry was posted in Africa-Central, Agriculture, Contract-Farming, Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika2. Bookmark the permalink.

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