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

World Food Day in Dasabligo PS

It was World Food Day last Thursday, so to celebrate that Dasabligo Primary School prepared different dishes from maize. Our first post here was about harvesting maize and now we continued our project and cooked some traditional maize meals.

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Ghanaian national dishes we made on World Food Day

Uses of maize
Maize is sold in the fresh or dry shelled state in the local markets. The marketing of maize is done by many middlemen.

Maize is eaten by roasting and boiling at the fresh state.

Maize is locally used in making food such as “kenkey”, “waha”, “goya” (“tubani”), porridge, tuo zaafi (TZ), “mgmera”, rasta porridge, “banku” among others.

Both grain and leaves are used to feed farm animals. It is also used in making alcohol (“pito”), corn starch, corn oil, corn syrubs and sugars. The husks are used to wrap food (“kenkey”) and to wave doormats. The stalks are used as fuel (firewood) food cooking and mulching soils.

We prepared six different meals, as you can see from following photos:

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“Banku”
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Beans and maize
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Okrosoup with beef
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Pepper sauce
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Tomato-onion-fish sauce
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“Tubani”

How we prepared the dishes? Watch our video and find out!

http://youtu.be/9QWu4yyJQaU

Happy World Food Day!

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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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Maize

Overview
Maize
is an example of cereal plants. Cereal is a term used to describe a group of plants in the grass family while a grain is the seed or the fruit produced by cereals. Maize is rich in starch. They are one of the most important crop plants worldwide and form the stable diet of a large percentage of the population.

Maize requires an average temperature of 14-30 °C and thus grow well at high temperatures. It needs regular supply of water (about 75-150 cm rainfalls) throughout the year.

Harvesting
Maize becomes mature for harvesting at 105-120 days after sowing depending on the variety sown. It is harvested fresh or in the dry state. It is harvested by hand or with a cutlass. On large scale farms, combine harvesters or corn picking machines are used.

Dehusking is the removal of the husks after harvesting. The grains are removed from the cobs and it is known shelling. Dehusking and shelling are done by hand or machines.

Storage
Maize is dried and treated against pests such as weevils, armyworms, grain borers and rodents. It is locally treated by mixing with ash, orange peels, onion peels and insecticides and traps for rodents.

After maize are dried and treated against pest attacks, they are stored in bags, barns or silos. It is even stored by hanging them above the kitchen hearths.

Watch our video about maize harvesting!

 

Dasabligo Primary School Students

 


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