Following last season’s devastating drought, this year the rains have arrived on cue, with predictions for a good rainy season. Maize planting has begun. However, crucial delays, caused by lack of land preparation and shortages of seed and fertiliser, threaten to delay plantings. Supported financially by Barnabas Fund, Foundations for Farming (FFF), says, “Remember that we lose 120kg of grain per day per hectare for every day we are late planting after 25 November … the next few weeks are critical.”
Poor agricultural practices play a major part in reduced harvests: the lateness of ploughing is a perennial problem as farmers are not taught to prepare their lands in winter prior to the summer rains. Debt-ridden farmers are also unable to pay for their yearly inputs – seed, fertiliser, chemicals – and have to rely on government handouts, which generally come too late. All these issues impact on timely plantings and resulting good harvests. As FFF highlights: “Farmers are not properly taught that farming is a twelve-month enterprise.”
With granaries empty because of the recent droughts, Barnabas Fund will continue the Project Joseph feeding programme until harvest time, around May–June next year, delivering over 70 tonnes of maize meal per month.