Small Scale Farmers need our Help
Evaporation 31 Nov to 6 December 3-3, 3-3, 4, 5, 4-10, 5, 10
I think I have now added two follow buttons – one is an e-mail button, which means that, as soon as I write a blog, it will come through as an e-mail (hopefully NOT into your junk folder). The second is a Blog follow button, and probably only works if you are a regular blogger reader – I assume it will come up whenever you open your browse? We will get the hang of it eventually.
One farming idea (before I get down to the main subject): Has anyone had the idea of putting a snow-plough on the front of their pivot wheels? Both my foreman and I have had the same idea – how can we prevent the pivot wheels from dragging down more tobacco as the plants get bigger? It hasn’t been SUCH a problem in the past, but this year, with our noticeably better crop, as the leaves of the nearby plants get bigger, they get caught under the wheels and they tend to pull the whole plant over. The whole wheel track is surrounded by mangled plants which must also be a source of disease. A snow-plough/cow-catcher front end (and side fairings) might prevent this, or at least reduce the damage. Has anyone tried a Mark I idea? A quick (back of the envelope calculation – what the Dutch call a wet finger calculation; from our “thumb-suck”) tells me that the outer wheel, damaging a further 35cm of tobacco on each side of the wheels, could be doing $1,000 plus worth of physical damage, without making any allowance for disease. That would pay for quite a smart snow-plough, with bells.
I don’t know how many of you are aware that I have started to give monthly talks to my Small Scale neighbours in Chief Siachitema’s area? Probably those that are aware are also very skeptical, but I do believe it is entirely in my self-interest to do so. All 3 of my sons have expressed an interest in coming back to this farm (once they have served my sentence of seeing some of the world before I’ll allow them back) and, if they are to have any future here, the small-scale neighbours will have to be lifted out of poverty.
Graham Mulders has also appealed to us to do something similar to help.
I was discussing it with James Chance (one of the Skeptics) and he said that the commercial farmers had tried it in Zimbabwe, and it didn’t make any difference. I wonder if he (or anyone else) would like to try to analyze WHY it didn’t make any difference? We could learn from their experience.
I have warned the farmers in my area, that there will not be any financial or material support; I have encouraged them to steal with their eyes (to borrow a saying from Joseph Weltin); EVERY talk I give, will discuss the need for population control (indeed I have asked a couple of wordsmith friends of mine to come up with bumper stickers to raise awareness of this need – I now through this open to everyone); I have borrowed a phrase from the film “The Last King of Scotland”. After some catastrophe Amin’s doctor says to Amin “I warned you not to do that” and Amin replies “Yes you warned me, but you did not persuade me” and I am emphasizing to the small scale farmers that I need to PERSUADE them to limit the number of children they have AND to change the way they do certain things.
One idea that HAS started to catch on in the immediate vicinity of Siachitema Mission goes by the name of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (of woodland). The idea is simply to go into an area of scrubby re-growth, and, from every stump, select the biggest straightest shoot – remove all the others. Without competition from it’s sibling suckers, this shoot grows much faster until it gets away from fires and goats. Two people had actually had the insight to try this themselves, several years ago, and have lovely woodlots of trees about 8m tall. At least 15 households have now started to copy them.
If you look at Google Earth this is almost EVERYONE’S problem and, if we want to avoid being swamped by a huge population of desperately poor people we HAVE to learn how to get the messages across. (I would love to share the material I have prepared, but the Power-point presentations I deliver to the farmers run to about 100Mbyte (with all the pictures) and are much too big for me to upload to this blog. I’ll find a way.)