Its that time of year again. Every one is waiting for the rain. Time to dig the plot of land and get ready to plant. Everyone is over the heat and everything being dry and dusty – but at the same time, underneath, everyone is a bit nervous about when the rain will come. Because its not just about breaking the dry, bit its about how good will the season be? How much food will will be grown this year? Also, the rain will bring fresh food to eat – bean leaves, pumpkin leave and fresh corn. Not even Mozambicans like ugadi and beans everyday!
I have shared here before how I have a little plot of land too. It helps me be in tune with what people are up to (I really have to get around to digging it!) and also gives me a chance to test out a few ideas. The problem is, there are so many ideas that could be used to improve the outputs on these small farms. I think this is where some development programs fall down – they expect people to be able to pick up too many new ideas all at once. So this year I’m just doing baby steps. I’m picking the lowest hanging fruit. It seems a no brainer – but make the change that is free, simple and will have an effect. So I’m going to increase the density of plants across the plot. Not by a whole bunch – where people normal plant 3-4 seeds per hole every meter I will plant a seed every 20-30cm. Theres lots of good reasons why this makes sense, from allowing the plants to exploit the available soil volume better, to shading out weeds, to providing cover for the soil when the rains stop and the plants are trying to finish off. Ideas and reason are one thing. Doing it and seeing how it works is another… and the big test will be how it goes down with the locals.