News from the front

Regular readers know that I value reports from people working with rural farmers to try and improve things. I confess I don’t subscribe to them all — life’s too short — but they generally turn up in one of my searches or another. The implication is that if either of these is new to you, you might want to go back and get a flavour of the blogs’ history. Anyway …

Stu in Rwanda regales us with a house-warming party and, more to the point, a little update on the project he’s working on. Take two women, working the same size plot. One is growing five white, starchy staples. She’s growing them well, but that’s all she’s growing, and her child is in the malnutrition ward. Her neighbour “had incorporated small-scale livestock, was improving her land with manure and compost, and had diversified with perennial fruits and annual vegetables”. Why the difference? Well, that’s what Stu is trying to find out. And you can find out why he is happy when his stuff gets stolen; shades of Parmentier’s potatoes.

In Ghana, Jenneke describes the difficulties of getting farmers to share accurate information. It’s all a question of local norms. Asking a Ghanaian how many cows he has is, it seems, a bit like asking a Dutchman how much he has in the bank. And while the Dutch are reticent on the topic of what I like to call “night soil,” Ghanaians are forthright: “We would love to get the shit from the city, with that the crops grow well, but a lot of people want to have it. Only when you pay they give it to you”. Will Jenneke get the data she (?) needs?

Maybe I will subscribe.

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