Organic Farming in Africa.

Compiled by: Grant Norvall with assistance from Rosa Zeca

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Modern agriculture is heading for meltdown. Such is the impact upon our precious soils, because of the introduction of unnatural farming systems. Soils are gradually being reduced to basic parent material and farmers have to apply all of the nutrients that plants need through fertilisation. I doubt this worlds natural resources will hold out for much longer, and this makes 'Large Scale Hydroponics' an unsustainable option. Go for organic, that is where the answers lie. We are thinking long-term and trying to introduce sustainable systems in one of the poorest nations on earth.

Vinho Organic Farming Association Meeting, 22nd April 2008

The Nhamatanda Director, Sr. Benendito Caetano of Agriculture opens the meeting

The 12 ladies who after being allocated land by the Organic Farmers Association initiated a market garden to grow vegetables organically.

After the meeting, we make our way to Sr. Herculano and the ladies market gardens for an impromptu field day.

Part of Sr. Herculano’s machamba that has been prepared for flood irrigation. Sr. Herculano purchased a motorised pump after 2 years of using a manual pump and saving up enough money to purchase the motorised unit. He pumps from the Pungwe River into a main canal from which the water is directed into the furrows pictured above.


Lively and informative discussions take place. This is the function of field days, to promote interest.
 

We make off from Sr. Herculano’s machamba to visit the ladies market garden.

The tomatoes are looking great! Some are beginning to yellow so we showed the ladies how to apply fire ash as a top dressing.

The group listens while Sr. Herculano discusses how to make best use of the remaining tomato plants in the ladies nursery. Other farmers from the association will take plants to plant into their own machambas.

Vinho School and Nhamatanda Director of Agriculture Visit.

Immediately after being welcomed at Vinho School , the children feel the moisture that has been retained under mulch because of mulching done a few weeks ago.

The school director explains what has to be done to prepare the nursery to the children.

After the mulch is removed the ground is tilled in preparation to add compost.

 

Grass piled on the edge of the machamba has composted nicely. The children collect the moist, decomposing organic matter from the bottom of the grass pile, to add to the soil in the nursery seed beds.

The compost is spread onto the prepared ground and mixed into the soil of the seed beds.


When the compost is mixed in well, the children pull soil up to cover any exposed compost then level the prepared seed bed.

The seed bed is divided into 4 separate beds.

Beans are planted between the beds to provide the seed beds with Nitrogen. Each planting station is marked with a stake. Before and after: the seed bed is prepared, and then covered again with mulch to conserve moisture until we bring the seed (on 17th-next day)

The children are each given 2 bean seeds which they plant 3 paces apart, (2 seeds per station) Even the little chap in the pic above! These bean plants will provide N to the vegetables when transplanted from the nursery to the main garden.

Rosa re-caps with the children what has been done and what has to be done still.

Monica leads the children in a game that quickens wit, a fun end to a great and productive visit.

Some of the children look on as we discuss the next visit with the school director.

From the school, we drove to Nhamatanda to meet with the Director of Agriculture. The Director is 100% behind our efforts and advised us how to proceed to implement the Vinho Ladies Market Garden Project. A meeting has been set for next week with all parties concerned. We were also given vegetable seed for the Vinho School garden. One thing that was discussed is our involvement with the existing Government extension worker in the Bebedo Area. The Director is enthusiastic that our involvement will complement their efforts to spread the use of Organic Farming for which they have only been given a very small budget. We have a great need for a motorcycle in Vinho, and I propose to construct a simple lockable storeroom at the school with money we are not spending from the Agric budget. The motorcycle and some bicycles can be locked there for safe keeping. The bike would not only be useful for me, Rosa and Monica, but also Suleiman and other members in the department.

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Grant Norvall

Gorongosa National Park, Sofala, Mozambique

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