A woman weeds her onion farm.
This weekend I met Mr. Salia, a hard-working vegetable farmer in the town called Buipe. Mr. Salia is one of those guys that after meeting I have to write about. He’s a young guy who was hired by the government to teach. He’s only employed part-time (government youth employment program) and so he supplements his income by farming. In the dry season, he sets himself up next to the
Growing vegetables to me is one of those businesses that I think everybody should get into! It’s good for you! Like eating your veges! But very few people have copied Mr. Salia and set up shop.
It requires a few things that can be tricky to access #1. the right type of start-up capital #2. a lot of technical knowledge #3. great market access. This post focuses on the first.
This year Mr. Salia is struggling. Cattle came and ate his entire crop. About $500 worth of investment. He’s out this money and wondering if he should continue.
He built a fence but it was not very effective because it was basically thorny bushes piled in a line. Not enough to stop hungry cattle in the dry season!
It occurred to me that most development projects aren’t interested in providing support to help farmers put up fences. They most commonly provide water pumping machines. Mr. Salia was offered one but he turned it down. Figured it wasn’t worth the cost of fuel and maintenance. He’d rather have a fence. They weren’t offering fences.
I think the development sector has got it wrong when it’s supporting vegetable farmers. All I ever hear about is pumping machines. Nothing about fences.
Two years ago I worked with vegetable farmers along the
By the way, two years ago these farmers also had their crops eaten by cattle. They also lacked a fence. They were lucky enough to know the farmers who own the cattle and were reimbursed for their eaten vegetables.
Two weeks ago I visited a community in Binaba. Their fence was impressive! It is 4 feet tall. Hand build. From mud. These farmers are doing well. And no pumping machines required.
Mr. Salia doesn’t have time to build a wall like this.
Why does the development sector insist on pumping machines into the agriculture sector instead of building walls?
I’m not really sure. It could be because machines are perceived as more modern and therefore more desired by development works and farmers alike.
Maybe this doesn’t matter. What matters more is that the development sector listens to Mr. Salia and provides him what he needs.