Gardens

Our Peace Corps friend Micah came to visit so David and I had the chance to do a little passear-ing in Estaquinha. There’s a river a few kilometers away that people cross every day to go to school and fish on in dugout canoes. A night student of mine fishes occasionally and he took us out on his boat and on a walk around through bush on the other side. We picked sugar cane and cassava leaves to make matapa.

In the afternoon, we rode the tractor out to the farm where the mission produces food for the dormitories and to sell for profit. This time of year yields a lot of produce so we brought lots of food home. This year I was also able to achieve my goal of having a garden. I joined forces with my friend Rosa to pay some people to care for a plot of land out near the mission’s garden. So far, it is a success! The garden is already full of lettuce, cabbage, different kinds of greens, onions, potatoes and we’ll soon have potatoes and beans. We’ll never be able to eat it all and will have to give it away. Even though I haven’t done barely any work on it, it’s satisfying and fun to eat things that I picked myself.

The problem is that the garden is too far to walk to; even by bicycle you need to allow a good hour or two to get there, harvest and come back. I’ve had a bike almost since I arrived in Estaquinha but it’s poorly made and has given me nothing but problems. Preparing to ride home last week, I noticed the tire I had pumped up before heading out was now completely flat. Fortunately, I was with the kid who works on the garden and he said we would go to find a pump. He got on his bike balancing bags of produce on the handlebars, lifted my bike upside-down over his head with one arm and instructed me to perch on the back of his bike. We rode like this for probably 500 meters until the mission tractor came by and I was able to catch a lift.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Gardens

  1. Douglas Southgate

    In places like Mozambique, agricultural economists frequently encounter the complaint that farm-level prices (especially for perishable commodities) are way below prices in cities and other markets. The reason for this is not profiteering intermediaries. Rather, the costs of moving produce from place to place along bad roads are high and losses due to insects, vermin, and simple bumping-around are elevated. Besides, the prices farmers receive plunge at harvest time, when supplies are abundant.

    You’ll have to excuse all this professorizin’. After all, your experience with the garden now qualifies you to teach a case-history on agricultural marketing in the African countryside.

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