Board member Edith Lanfer just returned from a project visit to The Gambia and has great things to report about the gardens of Jumansar, Dutabullu, Chamen und Kalataba.
Green, wherever you look – the vegetable gardens are in full bloom
I was more than surprised when I entered the vegetable gardens of the participating villages. Every field is planted with tomatoes, onions, eggplant, bitter tomatoes, sweet pepper, lettuce, hot pepper – up to the very last corner. In the gardens of Jumansar, Chamen, Dutabullu and Kalataba there are more vegetables than ever before. Right now 1000 – 2000 kilograms of tomatoes are harvested every week. And lots of baskets of wonderful salad.
The villagers have increased their produce tremendously. What is the reason for this new eagerness?
Better living conditions are certainly one of the major factors for the women to invest even more hard work into vegetable gardening. Since we installed solar driven pumping systems in the four villages in the Badibou Distrikt of Gambia in 2011, 2012 and 2014, the villagers are no longer dependent on the short rainy season. For the first time the women and youth can earn an income throughout the year. Since then each women/ family has an income of approximately 80 Euro per year. Even after the deduction of the small fee to cover the maintenance work of the pump, they have about 50 Euro to invest into special expenses, such as school fees for one of their kids, the repair of their homes or urgently needed household goods. It sounds incredibly little for us, but it is an income which they never had before. That motivates. It motivates the women to continuously grow more vegetables, hoping to achieve a higher income.
Together with our efforts to optimize planting cycles, adapted vegetable varieties and enhanced bed preparation, the yield is increasing enormously.
But there is a painful reality to it.
The money the women and youth earn is still to little! The tons of tomatoes which are harvested presently everywhere in the country lead to a painful drop in sales prices. Frequently they have to sell 20 kilograms of tomatoes for just 50 Dalasi, this equals to just one Euro!
With the method of food processing, the women want to try to counter the loss of income. Together we made first trials and created recipes. But it remains to be seen wether the women will find buyers for their barbecue sauces or ketchup and indeed increase their income. We’ll keep you informed.