Zanlerigu Primary School and plants in our yard

Classes 4, 5 and 6 from Zanlerigu Primary took part of different school linking activities. From 7th to 11th of November.

Our friends from Estonia sent us a presentation about plants in their school yard. We looked at it with classes 6a and 6b and the Mondo teacher from Estonia was explaining the uses of these plants and some things about the climate and nature of Estonia. For us it is quite difficult to imagine a place than can be so cold at times. We made herbal tree from linden tree flowers and drank it together.

With class 6b we then went around our own school and talked about the ways we use the trees that are found here. The trees that we saw were Neem tree, Kapok, Flamboyant tree, Mahogany, Eucalyptus and Acacia. The most obvious benefit of all these trees is that they provide shade and coolness for us and our animals when the weather is very hot outside.

Some trees also have very special value for their beauty. For example in the beginning of rainy season the Flamboyant tree bears very decorative red flowers that are pleasing to look at. Flamboyant tree and Acacia belong to the the bean family of plants which means that they bear fruits that are stored on pods. These pods of seeds can be used to make different sounds and play music. These trees also have fern-like leaves that are made up of many small units attached to one leaf-stem.

The trees that have medicinal value are Neem tree and Mahogany. We can make tea from neem leaves, which can lower fever, clean blood, support liver function and much more. Around here people often use small sticks of neem tree to clean their teeth (the bark of neem is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory). The seeds inside neem berries can be used for making oil, which is widely used in production of cosmetics. This oil also has a use as natural insect repellent. Because neem is a fast growing tree it is also often used as firewood. Growing neem trees also makes the soil more fertile because the roots can grow very deep and bring minerals back to the surface of the ground.

Mahogany is a tree that is prized for the beautiful colour and texture of it’s wood. That is why it’s often used to make luxury furniture. Mahogany is a slow growing tree. We use the bark and sap of mahogany tree for medicine, especially to cure stomach pains. That is why when you see mahogany here, their trunks have many scars and holes in them. People routinely go to the tree to cut it and get medicine.

The Kapok tree has fruits that contain cotton like fibre. We use it to make pillows.

Eucalyptus is a tree uses up a lot of water from the ground, so people plant it to irrigate very wet areas.

After seeing all the plants and talking about them each student chose one tree and drew a picture of it also stating some of the uses of this tree.

With both classes 6a and 6b we read the letters from our friends from Kuristiku Gümnaasium and wrote letters about ourselves back.

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Presentation Primary School: Trees around our school

A group of students from classes 1-6 from Presentation Primary School learned about the different trees that are found near our school. Our teacher David was telling us about the uses that these trees have.

The trees that we talked about were: Jatropha, Mahogany, Fig tree, Shea tree, Neem, Dawadawa. Red and yellow berry trees.

Jatropha is a plant that can be used to produce oil. Mahogony tree has very hard and beautiful wood and therefore is used for carpentry, but besides that it also has medicinal value in easing stomach pains. Neem tree is also used as medicine to lower fevers. Dawadawa tree fruits are very nutritious and we use it in many dishes (like soups, stews and rice dishes).

After seeing all the trees we went to the library and everybody chose one tree to draw. We made picture of the trees and wrote uses of them next to our drawings.

Field trip with Zua Primary and Zua Junior High School.

On 19th of October 2016 the students from Zua Primary and Zua Junior High School embarked on a field trip to a nearby hill called Amuhizupelig. We were accompanied by teachers from both schools and by a member of our community who knows the area very well. His name is Baga’ant.

Before starting the trip we gathered together, said a prayer, sang a song and listened to instructions by our teachers.

While taking the trip, we collected different edible or otherwise useful plants and made short videos about them. The typical landscape around our school is quite flat, there are no big mountains or valleys. Because of that people can grow a lot of crops here. We saw fields of maize, millet, okra and other plants all around us. Also there are many useful trees such as shea trees or dawadawas. On the way we saw a lot of animals but only domesticated animals like cows, sheep and goats. No lions or elephants or crocodiles 🙂 As we got farther from the villages there were more grasslands, bushes and wild trees.

During the rainy season the trail we took is very hard to pass through but because by now the dry season is starting and there are no more heavy rains, it was easy enough to reach our destination. To reach the hilltop we had to make our own path through the high grass.

The view from the top of the hill was very beautiful, it’s possible to see all of the surrounding area from up there. We spent some time on the hill relaxing and playing games and then returned back to school. The trip itself was not so long: alltogether we walked for about two hours, but because of the hot weather and the sun we felt a little bit tired afterwards.

Back at the school we watched some videos of the field trips taken by our friends from Kolga school and wrote letters to them.

National Farmer’s day and Harmattan

Logre Primary School’s headteacher Solomon and Mondo teacher Prosper decided to organize the food project one day before the annual Farmer’s day. This is a public holiday in Ghana and celebrated every first Friday in December, this year on 4th of December.

The tradition of celebrating this day and started in 1986 as a recognition of the important role farmers and fishermen play in the national economy. During that period, agriculture formed about 30%, one third of the country’s GDP. Two consecutive years prior to the first Farmer’s Day celebration, the country had suffered severe drought and wild bush fires, so the agricultural sector needed a boost of moral. So the second purpose the government had was to encourage and motivate the farmers to produce more. (GraphicOnline)

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Local family farming in their garden near Logre Primary School

This day is a vacation day for all workers and the whole public sector, a day off to enjoy literally the fruits of their own input. The best farmers and fishermen are nominated for prizes and they receive high recognition. The first best farmer received two machetes, a pair of Wellington boots and a preset radio (GraphicOnline), but nowadays the prizes are bigger and bigger. In 2015 the winner was entitled to a house and also took home a huge sum of money, a laptop and a car (Ghanaweb).

Every year the celebrations take place in a different region and city. This year it was special, because the 31st National Farmers’ Day celebration took place in Upper East region (UER) in Bolgatanga which is the closest bigger city to Kongo village. The theme of 2015 was Transform Ghana – Invest in Agriculture and almost 78 people were honored altogether (Ghanaweb). Bolgatanga is the town where Solomon lives and all Kongo was talking about the big event. The prominent people and elders were all invited to attend the celebrations.

The positive side of having the event carried out in Bolga was that the whole country turned their eyes towards their region. Upper East is the poorest of regions where the nature is the most severe and the famine and lack of education is the most prominent. However this was their occasion to show the hospitality of the locals and their warm hearts and positive assets.

The UER exposed the people of coming in to the agricultural potentials of the region and farmers got well informed about the eco-system, soil types as well as the weather and climatic conditions of the region. The winner of 2015 pointed out  the hospitable nature of the people commending them for their religious tolerance. (GraphicOnline) This is one of the aspects one could really feel coming to Bolga, Kongo or Logre site.

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Dried and burned savanna near Kongo

The period that Logre organized their food project was already the Harmattan season. The most flourishing rainy season came to end at the end of October, in November the surrounding sites started to dry up. In December it is when the crops really start to lack and the famine sets in.

The Harmattan is a dry, dusty strong wind that blows from the Sahara from December to February. It appears like fog but it is dust and the dust is so dense that it covers the sun. Some people could even describe it as pleasant because the small particles of sand dims down the heat coming from the sun. But for the locals it causes problems from drying the land completely to drying themselves: skins starts cracking and people suffer from occasional and sudden nose bleeds. Shea butter is the best moisturizer for dried skin and lips. (Easytrackgahan) Remind yourself how Sekoti Primary School prepared shea butter last year.

In 2015 the Harmattan started to unusually early.This is one of the consequences of the climate change. The result? The farmers are fearing that  the Harmattan could dry up cocoa seedlings but Ghana is one of the two biggest cocoa producers in the world.

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Lore PS Students reciting the songs

So due to Harmattan, it was rather difficult for the school to organize a preparing of the food or show the harvesting. They idea was to show the readers of the foodblog the local culture through some farming songs. The first step is that the group headed to the garden of the PTA chairman Mister Naab Dok. His family was planting pito (vegetable used not only to produce local alcoholic drink but the leaves are also used as vegetable in soups and stews) and tomatoes, even his smallest children were at the site with parents.

The garden was small but lovely, the had used millet sticks to fence it and protect from wild animals. On the way there we could really feel the Harmattan blowing. The headteacher was even about to cancel the event in fear of having bad audio quality and visibility. We still carried the project out in order to honor the preparation work the pupils had done but sorry for any inconvenience the sound may cause. Still, the picture depicts well the seasonal aspects.

The pupils were grouped by their duties, some of them were planting, some carrying water and watering, some accompanied with singing to keep up the good moral and the rhythm. Afterwards the group came together and started dancing to celebrate the end of work.

The headteacher translated the songs sung by the children. They were manly about honoring the works the parents do (the parts of all the participating pupils are farmers). Children need to respect the family and help out with farming activities. Sadly, it often implies skipping school for days do to the planting or the harvesting. Still, having food on the table is the second most important thing to survive after having clean water to drink.

As in the Northern part of Ghana the farming can only been done when the water is present, during the rainy season, parents are looking out for alternative ways of providing for their families. So the often crack stones or go mining gold to earn their living. The translations of the songs and the seasonal aspect of farming is also explained by the headteacher.

Sources used:

Sugarcane or maize? A challenge for kenyan farmers

Kenya’s economy is dominated by agriculture which is also the largest contributor to Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP). But at the same time only around 15-17% of the land has sufficient fertility and rainfall to be farmed and only 7-8% can be considered to be first-class land. Kenya is a leading producer of tea and coffee, one of the biggest producer of sugarcane as well as the third-leading exporter of fresh produce, such as cabbages, onions and mangoes. Small farms grow most of the corn and also produce potatoes, bananas, beans and peas.

Farming sugarcane has been an essential activity in Kenya, especially in Western part of Kenya and also in Shianda village as there is a local sugar factory in Mumias. Sugarcane is mainly planted by farmers who deliver it to the processing factory after maturity. For farmers it has been convenient to grow sugarcane because the factory has been providing seeds, harvesting with transport and even incentives. But nowadays the factory is struggling with payments and because of increased costs of input, lack of incentives from the factory, farmers are withdrawing from growing sugarcane replacing it with maize and vegetables. Which is a good development as sugarcane’s growing cycle is around one year and people don’t use it for their own consumption. Now sugarcane farmers are facing a serious problem as they need to invest into inputs and fertilizers but have to wait a year before harvesting benefits and in addition the factory is delaying with payments resulting often with negative returns. As most of the farmers are small-scale, this kind of situation is increasing poverty and food insecurity in the area. So replacing sugarcane with maize is rather recommended. Maize can be harvested twice a year and people are using it for their own consumption. But even growing maize has its own disadvantages. When there is a dependable marketplace for sugarcane in the face of Mumias Sugarfactory, there is none for maize. Small-scale farmers in Shianda have two options when selling their maize, whether to sell it during the harvesting season, when the price is often below the net value or store their maize to even out fluctuations in market supply by taking produce off the market in surplus season and releasing it back onto the market in lean season, receiving higher price but suffer heavy losses, both of which are detrimental to the farmers. Furthermore small-scale farmers in Shianda village are lacking dependable marketplace and have no bargaining power over the price on selling their products. At the same time due to low job opportunities and lack of education in the area, for most people farming is the only option to earn some income. Farmers are facing many challenges to ensure food security for their families.

maize
maize
sugarcane

Like many other African countries Kenya is also struggling with desertification. The majority of local farmers use chemical fertilizers. Natural fertilizers such as compost are often preferred to chemical fertilizers. Also, the overuse of chemical fertilizers can have negative effects on the land. For the past twenty years the rains have not been very reliable. The prevailing dry periods have created food supply problems. The rains have been unfavourable to basic crops such as corn, potatoes and beans and food insecurity has resulted. Many local farmers are obliged to buy food to meet the needs of their family because the soil has become completely sterile.

Drought has eroded the country’s natural resources to an extent that they are inadequate for production and support for livelihoods. Droughts have accelerated soil degradation and reduced per-capita food production. In the last decade alone, four major food crises have all been triggered by desertification. Desertification processes have led to massive internal migrations, forcing communities to flee their localities to already-overcrowded areas thereby causing disputes over scarce resources use. Although the government has put in place National Food Security and Nutrition Policy, the quantity and quality of food available, accessible and affordable to all Kenyans, achieve good nutrition for optimum health has remained a challenge.

Text by Kaie Laaneväli

Materials:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_in_Kenya

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/lifestyle/article/2000086318/rapid-desertification-in-kenya-threatening-livelihood

Kama – a traditional estonian food

Eshiakulo Secondary School pupils had an opportunity to taste traditional estonian food – kama. What is kama? Kama is a traditional Estonian finely milled flour mixture. The kama is a mixture of roasted barley, rye, oat and pea flour. The oat flour can be completely replaced by wheat flour.

Historically kama was a non-perishable, easy to carry food that could be quickly fashioned into a stomach-filling snack by rolling it into butter. Kama didn’t require baking, as it was already roasted.

“Kama flour” is healthy and natural product made of Estonian crops. A meal from kama flour will provide you with a healthier diet option. Kama flour is a product rich in fibres and minerals and a valuable source of B group vitamins. Use kama flour with fermented milk products, it will double the healthy impact.

Nowadays kama is used for making some desserts. It is mostly enjoyed for breakfast mixed with milk, buttermilk or kefir as mush. It is frequently sweetened with sugar and berries.

Traditional Estonian dishes are conspicuous for the simplicity of their preparation. Just take kama, mix it with milk or buttermilk and eat it! Simple as that!

Making kama is easy
Not bad at all. Strange, but eatable.
A little taste of Estonia
Just mix it and eat it!
Kama with strawberries

 

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Northern Ghanaian most common dish TZ with vegetable soup

Zanlerigu Primary School

Ghanaian national food: TZ with vegetable soup
In Africa, especially Ghanaians consume varieties of food. One of the most cherished food consumed in the northern part of Ghana is “tuo zaafi” (TZ).

T.Z can be prepared using maize or millet. This millet is sub-divided into two: early millet called “nara” and guinea corn called “kemolega”.

After harvest this harvested millet is dried for 3-4 days and when well dried, you thrash or pound them and afterwards remove all the chaffs from the grains.

Also, the grains are ground using the grinding stone or grinding mill. This ground grains are called flour. This flour will be mixed with water. The water should stay for a day so that fermentation will take place. With your entire cooking utensils ready e.g. stirring rod, pot etc pour the fermented mixture inside the pot on fire and stir till it is uniformly mixed to form porridge. When this porridge is well boiled add flour and start stirring and adding the flour for 2-3 minutes and that makes what is called T.Z.

T.Z can be taken with a lot of soup depending on the kind of soup one prefers: groundnut paste and okro soup (vegetable soup) is what we intend eating with our T.Z.

With your groundnut paste, okro and other ingredients ready, you cut your okro into pieces set your fire and if the water starts boiling, pour your okro inside the pot.

If it starts to boil or boiling add salt bitter into it. In Ghana salt is very important in preparation of any meal, so you add salt and any other ingredients that are made available to you. You can even add meat if you have.

After all this you then serve your bowls and that makes a complete meal for consumption.

Bon appetit!

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Our food project coordinator
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Our chef
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Cutting okro
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Preparing T.Z.
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T.Z. with vegetable soup is ready

Spend the next 10 minutes with us  to see the video and find out how our most common dish is made.

 

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Cultivation of the late millet

Two  teachers and ten students from Presentation Junior High School have done a great and useful work: cultivation of the late millet, the whole process from the beginning to the end, from preparing the land for sowing to eating TZ made from millet flour.

Some facts about millet:

  • Millet provides a host of nutrients, has a sweet nutty flavor, and is considered to be one of the most digestible and non-allergenic grains available;
  • It is one of the few grains that  is alkalizing the body;
  • Millet acts as a prebiotic feeding micro-flora in your inner ecosystem;
  • Millet’s high protein content (15 percent) makes it a substantial addition to a vegetarian diet.
  • Millet is an important food  crop in Northern part of Ghana and Northern, Upper West and Upper East (where  Logre village belongs) Regions produce 90 per cent Ghana’s millet.
  • The typical Ghanaian staple foods in the northern part  include millet.

Watch useful and educative 3-minute overview with photos and explanations about the cultivation of late millet at Logre stages.

 

And also longer video about the process.

Special thanks to Presentation Junior High School students, teacher Derrick Adongo who instructed the students and was a patron of this food project, and camera-man, ICT-teacher Justice Pelig-bagre for the wonderful work! Hope the readers will appreciate it too!

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The cultivation of cereal crops in Dasabligo

The cultivation of cereal crops in Dasabligo 

Ühispilt Dasabligo JHS
Our group of food project

Dasabligo is a farming community in the Nabdam district in the Upper East region in Ghana, West Africa.
There are many crops that grow in Ghana. They include cocoa, coffee, yam, rice, maize, guinea corn, soya beans, groundnuts etc – most of these crops are annual crops. The premier crops are mostly grown around the southern part of the country where regular rainfall appears throughout the year.

Upper East region, Bolgatanga (where Dasabligo community is located), grows annual crops due to the parthera of rainfall at this part of the country. Among these annual crops grown in the east region include guinea corn, groundnuts, rice, maize, soya beans, beans, sweet potato etc. Among these crops: maize, rice, guinea corn and groundnuts are grown in our community, Dasabligo.

Maize, rice, guinea corn are classified as cereal crops while groundnut is a leguminous crop. This makes it possible for us to practice mixed cropping in our community. That is when the cereal crops can be grown with groundnuts. Below are the crops that we grow, how they are cultivated and how we make food out of them.

MAIZE

maize
Maize

The botanical or scientific name of maize is Zea mays. It becomes the family of Crambidae. There are many varieties of maize in Ghana. Among them are local varieties or land race, synthetic varieties e.g. Dobidy, Aburotia, Bafia. We the people of Dasabligo grow the local (variety): Abelechi.

Maize likes rich soil with good drainage. Ideal soil for maize is sandy loam that stays moist without being too wet. Usually animals dropping are used as fertilizer. Rainfall between 600 mm and 900 mm during the growing season is necessary as well.

Propagation is done by seeds which are done manually by sticks or cutlass. The seeds are space 90 X 30 cm , 75 X 40 cm for the Abelechi variety. Two-three seeds are put  per hole and germination occurs after four to seven days. Seeds that have not germinated should be replaced. Weeding is done manually by hoe or cutlass at regular depending on the weed on the farm. Maize mature between three to four months (90-120 days).

Food made from maize:
Maize can be eaten either boiled or roasted. It can also be processed into flour, corn flakes, use for beer, baking flour. The flour can be used preparing TZ, banku and kenkey with soup or tomato stew.


GUINEA CORN

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Guinea corn

It botanical name is Sorghum bicolor.

There are many varieties of guinea corn; among them are Gambaga type Nunaba type, Naga White, Naga Red and the Belko type. The varieties grow in our community are the Naga Red and Naga White.

Guinea corn grows well in soils with high humus and well drained. Optimum temperature for growth is 27 °C but can bear extreme heat better than most crops.

The seeds are usually used for propagation. Recommended spacing is 75 X 15 cm. Guinea corn responds favourably to fertilizer application. For inorganic fertilizer we apply NPK 4°: 40: 10 In split closes. Half at sowing and half four weeks later The main diseases that attack guinea corn are rust and loaf spot and they can be controlled by crop rotation.

Guinea corn are used for preparing TZ, local alcohol known as pito and also for preparing porridge.

 

GROUNDNUTS

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Groundnuts (peanuts)

Groundnut is a dual-purpose crop. It can be cultivated as oil crop as well as leguminous crop. But it is mainly grown for its oil. Its botanical name is Arachis hypogea.

The nut (seed) contains 40-50% oil, 30% protein and 18% carbohydrates. The oil is used sor making margarines, cooking, soup and salad oil. The residue after the oil extraction is used as groundnut cake.

There are two main varieties. The bunch type and the runner or spreading type. Both two varieties grow well in rich, sandy loam soil. The soil must be rich in calcium and phosphorus to ensure good pods formation. Optimum rainfall ranges from 500 mm to 1000 mm per year but it can tolerate rainfall as low as 200 mm.

Groundnut requires a lot of sunshine and high temperature. It does not like shade or cloudy weather. Propagation: this is by seed. It can be planted solely or inter-cropped with other crops. One seed is planted per hole; spacing is 45-60 cm between rows and loam within rows for erect type. Seed should be dressed with fungicide before sowing.

Weeds are controlled by manual means with the hoe or cutlass or by used of weedicides. Weeding manually should be done twice before flowering. Fertilizer application usually in Dasabligo here, organic manure is used at the time of planting. But after planting nitrogen fertilizer can be applied.

Maturity and harvesting
The erect type clearly maturing matures in 90-100 days while the spreading type matures in 120-150 days. Harvesting is done by using hoe or pulling the plant by hand when the ground is wet. After harvesting the pods are dried and stored in silos or in bags either shelled or unshelled.

The most common groundnut disease in Dasabligo is groundnut rosette diseases. It usually causes the green leaves to turn yellow and mottled. Plant becomes stunted and finally dies. Pests like rodents which include rats dig up and eat sown seeds. The groundnut rosette disease is usually controlled by uprooting and destroying affected plants. The rodents are controlled by touching and trapping them.

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Rice

Watch our short video with music too!

 

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