Nelly Bassily | November 19, 2012
The farmer in this story took the bold step of introducing a new crop to the markets of his island nation. While his initiative and innovation are to be applauded, there are various issues to consider, as the farmer himself has experienced. Firstly, when a farmer chooses to plant any new crop, he or she will need a good and constant source of technical support, plus seeds and other supplies. If the crop is unfamiliar to a region or country, these may be difficult to come by. Another issue is whether the crop will sell. While strawberry is popular in Europe and North America, it is unknown or unfamiliar in many parts of Africa. Mr. Ridjali currently grows more than he can sell and is considering making jam or juice. Yet his income has increased and he is determined to continue.
Strawberry is grown on a commercial scale in South Africa and Tanzania, and number of other countries in Africa. It is often grown in greenhouses, but is fairly easy to cultivate in gardens with the right soils and climate.
This South African website describes two methods of strawberry cultivation − in an open field and in a barrel or sack: http://www.gardensgalore.co.za/Strawberries.html
Farm Radio International has published a number of scripts on the benefits of growing fruits. See the following two, for example:
Fruit Changes Farmers’ Lives (Package 81, Script 10, August 2007). http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/81-10script_en.asp
Growing fruit trees: A Participatory Radio Campaign in Uganda helps farmers earn income, improve the environment and enhance household nutrition (Package 94, Script 2, December 2011).http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/94-2script_en.asp
If you live in a highland area, farmers may already be growing apples, pears, cherries, grapes, or other temperate fruit. If not, temperate fruit production might be a good investment, especially if there is easy access to large towns orcities, or to export markets. Of course, growing (and eating!) fruit also brings health benefits!
Talk to farmers and extension workers in your listening area. Find out if the climatic conditions are right for growing temperate fruit. If so, is there a ready market? Does your national government have any plans to diversify into producing temperate fruit? Interview an official from the Ministry of Agriculture or an extension supervisor. Perhaps some farmers have tried growing temperate fruit in the past, and failed. But perhaps conditions have changed. Maybe the road infrastructure has improved, or nearby towns have grown and now offer a larger and more diversified market.