New Contract Farming Farmers,Problems with Seeds, and Flower Blossom Recipes

Last Friday three new farmers signed contracts to grow vegetables for the kitchens of the Hôtel club du lac Tanganyika.

Niyonsaba, Rehena, Esperance are older women who have large families and hope to use their income from the produce for basic household expenses, especially food and school fees.

The seeds that they will be planting this week include celery, spinach, green peppers and turnips.  The first three are ‘mystery’ seeds in that the local seed supplier knows nothing about their characteristics, except that they come from Kenya.  The turnip seeds also are from Kenya, but are a variety that should do well in the Imbo (sandy plain along lake Tanganyika, where our cultivation takes place).

Niyonsaba, Rehena and Esperance discussing the large plot that they are now clearing to be ready for the seedlings.

Obtaining good seeds is a serious problem in Burundi because, after decades of war and the flight of expert technical staff and supporting funds, research has been, for the most part, frozen.  I’ll be talking with the local FAO representative to discuss possibilities of their helping to support work in this area.

Vegegable nursery, using old mosquito netting for protection against wind, sun, and kids (both goat and human kids). Rice in the background has just been harvested, see above picture.

Seeds are being started out in small nurseries, protected from harsh sun either with very fine netting from old mosquito nets (as here) or with rice straw.  The women have just started clearing the rice land for outplanting.  The rice has just been harvested and the straw will be used as mulch.

Other seeds are coming from Kenya that are being selected specifically for our agro-climatic conditions, but that will be another couple of weeks and in the meantime we want to give these seeds a chance.  Also to be planted in the next week are seeds of two indigenous greens that are grown and widely eaten in Kenya.  We hope to add these to our indigenous collection of vegetables, to be prepared for special dinners that feature local (indigenous) crops and cuisines.

Our current plantings of short-leafed spinach, melons, cucumber, tomatoes, and indigenous squash are doing well.  It is also the season for both green (cooking) and sweet (dessert) bananas.  Both of these varieties are small.

Ammini Ramachandran has just sent us recipes for both pumpkin/squash and banana flowers, these are from her cookbook on cuisine in Kerala (southern India) – which is widely recommended, although not available in central Africa, most unfortunately!  As soon as we make these in the Hotel kitchen, I will do a blog giving the recipes and the results – and also the Italian recipe that we use for zucchini blossoms.  Very delicious!

Banana with a flower at the base in a mixed garden with maize, gourds, and greens. The leaves of grourds are used as a greens, mixed usually with beans.

This is an excellent example of mixed, or companion planting, whereby the mixture of plant types slows damage by insects and some diseases.

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, Gardens, Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika2. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to New Contract Farming Farmers,Problems with Seeds, and Flower Blossom Recipes

  1. yolanda says:

    I’ve had decent luck with growing turnips in Gitega this year for my own consumption. Unfortunately a bug attacked the greens just as dry season started. Most were about ready to harvest at that point anyway, though some were still on the scrawny side . I’ve still got some in my fridge – perhaps its turnips for dinner tonight! If you have any good turnip recipes please share those as well. I find the problem with turnips is that they always taste so turnipy.


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