DCFRN farming hints



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A: Growing maize when water is scarce

David Kambikiya, Horticultural Officer, Zambia:

I have often saved my maize crop from severe droughts. I do it by companion cropping with pumpkins. I use varieties with big leaves. The big leaves protect the soil around the maize from the scorching sun. I’ve found that our local pumpkin varieties can stand very dry soil conditions better than maize, and their big leaves shade the soil. This helps to keep the upper layers of soil from drying out and helps the maize because maize roots are shallow feeders.

In addition to companion cropping, I regularly loosen the soil which makes it possible for water to enter the soil when applied or when it rains. Otherwise the water can run along the surface of the soil, away from the plants, especially if the soil surface is hard.

B: Preserve bean seeds or bambara groundnut seeds with sand

Father Luigi Scantamburlo, Catholic Mission, Guinea Bissau:

Here on the island of Bijagos, Guinea Bissau, the farmers have an effective way to preserve beans or bambara groundnuts for the next planting season. They mix the seeds with fine sand, the type which is found on the small roads between villages. They collect the clean, dry sand and then mix it with an equal amount of the seed. The mixture is stored in the granary. The same sand can be used year after year.

C: Artificial reefs help ocean fishermen

Information collected on a DCFRN field trip in India

There are many ocean coastlines with very few fish in the water for fishermen to catch. These are areas with no reefs where small fish can live and grow and be safe from bigger fish that eat them when they are young.

On the southeast coast of India in Madras, the Chettair Research Centre has developed a low-cost way to recycle old car and truck tires to make artificial reefs in the ocean. They tie up eight or ten old tires in compact bundles, using strong plastic rope. Then four or five of these bundles of tires are tied together and anchored to the bottom of the ocean a short distance out from the shore. Dr. Seshagiri at the research centre says they tie the tires with chains to large rocks or cement blocks which are then dropped into the water; the weight pulls the tires down to the bottom. Tires in the ocean provide a perfect place for the small fish to get away from the big fish. Larger fish gather near these artificial reefs because of the small fish that live in them. Local fishermen know where the reefs are, so they know exactly where to go to catch the big fish.

Information sources

Dr. S. Seshagiri, Madras, India.