Since two big hotels showed interest in buying the vegetables from the Baddibu gardens in The Gambia, the villagers are eager to try to things and meet the demands.
There are many reasons that have led to the newly won motivation of the women and youth and their eagerness to move forward and try new things: the transfer of responsibilities to the village communities, the new government in The Gambia, ending years of repression and dictatorship, the training of our lovely agricultural expert Nadine, the assistance through agriculture officers in all villages, the training in composting, bed preparation, nursing and planting as well as the qualified and caring way of new CEO Mr. Momodou Bah. All these steps have given the women new strength and confindence and motivated them to continue their hard work.
Then came the first contact to two big hotels in the coastal area. The result: both hotels wanted to buy large quantities of vegetables from the Baddibu gardens – for a fair price, possibly all throughout the year. This set the ball rolling.
Villages coordinate their planting cycles
More than ever the women and youths want to prove their competence and commitment. A detailed garden plan was developed to coordinate the vegetable produce from all village gardens in accordance with fruit rotation, sustainability and market demand.
Together with agriculture officers Mariama, Musa and Mbelly, Momodou bought the best seeds he could find. The women and youths continuously add compost to the soil to fertilize it. They take enormous care in preparing the fields for the approaching rainy season. They will have to weed and hack frequently to aerate the soil.
Turning away from classical planting cycles
We all know that there will be many challenges lying ahead of us and especially the women. And we do not know if the plan will be successful. But they want to try. The women will now plant vegetables at times when traditionally the market gardening stops, either due to flooding rainfalls or extreme heat. It’s a risk but also a big chance to achieve better prices for their produce.
It needs some courage to restrain from traditional gardening methods. Working together in a cooperative, the women and youth make full use of the solar driven pumping system. They plant in staggered intervals to be able to provide the hotels with vegatables on continuous basis. They tie up the tomatoes, they fertilize the soil, they prepare raised beds, they nurse seedlings in planting tablets. And they started a reporting system to note down their experiences in a valid data base.
The determination to change their living conditions is impressive and earns all of our respect.
UPDATE 17. July: This morning Momodou Bah called us with a devastating message: Heavy rains have destroyed 80% of the planted seedlings! Fences destroyed, gardens flooded. In Jumansar several households hat to be evacuated. We will discuss further steps and keep you informed.