The Continuous Harvest


Farmers know that one growing season, dependent on rainfall alone, is not enough to ensure they will have plenty of food to eat and income to spare. The adopted solution is irrigation to bring in a second growing season. But how about a third growing season? Sounds good and many at Ngwangwa are already at three seasons per year.

But some farmers are going a step further: staggered planting. In this method, farmers will divide their plot into as many as 12 sections - 1 for each month - and plant at equal intervals so that there is always a crop to plant, a crop to manage, and a crop to harvest. This works best for vegetables that have a short shelf life and a long harvesting period. With leafy greens like mustard and rape, farmers who stagger their crops can have a continuous harvest all year long.

One farmer using this method grows vegetables in intervals of 3-4 weeks. He has been selling vegetables worth $30 per week for the past 3 months, while having plenty of greens on his family's plates too. Shortening the intervals between planting is one of the strategies AWP looks for to determine the sustainability of the farms.