Trained instructors out of their own communities in our gambian project teach the gardeners how to cultivate their vegetable fields in an efficient and sustainable way.
It has been a pleasure to observe. Mbelly and Musa, members of our project staff, who originate from two of the project villages in the Baddibu District in The Gambia, explain to the gardeners how elevated beds and careful watering help not only to increase the emblements, but also to protect the soil of their vegetable gardens.
During our visits to Gambia we constantly promoted the use of watering cans. We showed and explained the gardeners how to use them, but somehow we apparently were not able to explain. Eventually, we enabled Musa and Mbelly to participate in a two-week training course, that was held by The Gambia Songhaï Initiative, a nearby training centre for gardening, supported by the United Nations Development Programme and held by five experts from Porto-Novo, Benin. Our intention to empower the villagers and to transfer responsibilities to them obtained the result that we had hoped for. The assumption that explanation and continuous support from their own ranks would be most effective, proved to be right.
With great attention women and youths follow the explanations of Musa and Mbelly. Both men are respected and talented members of their village communes. They explain, that elevated vegetable beds contain more soil, which gives them a greater capacity for water retention and also allows the planting of root vegetables, that purposeful irrigation of the beds with watering cans lessens the consolidation of the clayey soil, that the salinisation of the soil can be counteracted by using as little water as possible, that skilful composting contributes not only to the fertilization of the soil but also enhances its structure, that a decisive and thoughtful crop rotation lowers the risk of pest infestation, that a well planned crop schedule allows up to three plantings per season, that when planted sequentially, they achieve a constant and always fresh yield for a long sales period at the market.
Musa and Mbelly do not only lecture the women, they assist in the gardens. They give concrete examples and effectuate the accepted implementation of the learned knowledge. And when they find the gardeners overflowing their beds with the water bucket, Musa and Mbelly are on the spot. Insistently and incompliantly they point to the necessity of keeping the soil fruitful for the next generations to come. They are now their own masters in sustainable market gardening.