In agriculture, optimal timing is particularly important for a successful harvest. In arid climates with only a short rainy season, this is even more significant. We have experienced this clearly in our Chereponi Farming Project. What we learned from it.
When the rainy season is shortened, certain crops cannot mature. This is what happened with our soybean fields in the Chereponi Farming Project in Northeast Ghana. The shortened rainy season did not harm the maize, which was sown first. The subsequent sowing of soybeans, on the other hand, had the worse time window. Just at the end of fruiting, the rains failed and the pods of the soybean plants remained largely empty.
Everything looked so good, 100% germination, lush growth and pod formation – a rich harvest was expected. Then the October rains failed, the time when the soybeans mature. The harvest result was sobering to worrying. Only the first tilled fields and the first sown fields of the soybean cultivation produced a profitable harvest.
What have we learned from this?
We will have to reckon with climatic irregularities again and again and more and more often. Whereas the time window for profitable cultivation used to be 30 days, it is now only around 21 days in which we can cultivate and sow the fields at optimum times. This cannot be achieved with the limited equipment available. Even if we continue to operate the tractor in two shifts, we will not manage to plow all the fields on time. We need more equipment to be able to use the time windows properly.
The farmers alone hardly have a chance to acquire sufficient tractor services to work the fields on time in the limited time – but together as a cooperative they do. That’s why we can and must use more tractors next year. This increases costs, but a failed harvest is worse. After all, their fields and their harvest are the only income for the farmer families.
The planning for next year’s cultivation starts now, with critical analysis. In order to win the race against time, we must develop solutions now: time-accurate logistics in agriculture, taking climate change into account.
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Implementing a successful project requires a lot of strength, endurance and trust. Together with our project partners, we develop and accompany projects that offer a sustainable perspective in rural areas. Our more than 10 years of project work have always been characterized by ups and downs, successes and failures. But what makes the difference for us are the people we are allowed to work with and the little stories of the daily project routine.
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