Continued Training at Nasala

At last, after much preparation, irrigation season begins! We were at Nasala today setting up a hand pump with a fire-hose-style pipe for distribution. These farmers were very please that their hand pumps could use old treadle-pump pipes. This makes it easier to move the pump around and water different areas.

After setting up the pump, we worked with the farmers on disease control in their tomato gardens. Blight is a common fungal disease that afflicts tomatoes and potatoes. The common solution is heavy spraying with fungicide. While this may help the tomato harvest, it is expensive and poses some health risks.

We train the farmers to manage blight through prevention of the spread of the fungus. This means preventing water from splashing on the leaves, rotating their crop on a 3-4 year cycle, identifying and destroying infected plants, and lastly, spraying the minimum fungicide possible. We also teach the farmers to identify blight, or potential blight, before they spray chemicals willy-nilly.

Then we proceeded to the second group of farmers at Nasala, where we showed them how to use the pump with a flat pipe.

 And then helped them to transplant onions with good spacing and garden layout.

 We demonstrated how to incorporate their manure and compost into the soil before transplanting.

 After applying manure/compost, the bed is watered in preparation for the seedlings.

Onion seedlings are planted in a grid at 5 inch spacing to maximize plant population density. With this spacing they will achieve a population of about 30,000 onions per acre. At 30 onions to the dollar wholesale, that's $1,000 gross per acre. A poor plant spacing could halve that amount.