As the rainy season is winding down, preparation for irrigation is ramping up. But as we have noted in years past, many farmers don't wait for the end of one season to start in on the next. They farm year-round. This is exactly the result we are looking for! This month we are recognizing two outstanding families for their leadership in planting early and often.
Zude and his family are busily harvesting their tobacco (which is the first rainy season crop to be harvested so that it can dry in the shade). But Zude knows that the tobacco market will not meet his family's needs for much longer. He has decided to plant a large irrigated garden - big enough to feed everyone in the house and fund some home repair, medical, and health needs. He has shown good leadership, not just by planting early, but by also planting beans between his rows of maize. This will ensure a better balance of protein in the diet, and it increases watering efficiency for the beans when the maize is tall enough to provide shade.
Another great leader this year is the Toyoyo family. They are new to irrigation, but have impressed their fellow farmers with their hard work and discipline. The family is often the first to the gardens in the morning and last to leave. They know that time spent working on their crops is not wasted.
By spending more time in the garden, they are able to do more than just weeding and watering. They reduce pests by clearing brush from the hedges, and they carefully control diseases by removing any signs of infection from the field before it spreads. This saves them money on pest and disease control chemicals - making for a healthier crop overall.
They have also planted onions next to their maize garden. Onions are an important ingredient in most local stews and vegetable dishes. Demand is always high, but supply dips during the early winter, exactly when the Toyoyo's crop will be ready for sale. Good planning!