RAIN's School Market Gardens provide food for students, income for the community and the school, and teach sustainable agriculture. How else can the garden provide increased benefits to the community?
The answer: solar ovens. In the remote regions of Niger where RAIN's partner communities live, electricity is not available, and refrigeration is not a viable option to preserve food. Traditionally, drying is the preferred method in the Sahara to extend the life of food from times of plenty through more scarcer times. Solar ovens were created exactly for that purpose, and increase the capacity of a community to store and transport food.
This valuable addition to our School Market Gardens is getting its very first try out in the village of Bonfeba in the Tillaberi region. Bonfeba has worked hard to plant their new garden and dig the communities' first well with RAIN. As the first crops come in, a women's cooperative will begin drying tomatoes, onions and peppers with the new solar oven. Tomatoes are an important staple in the nomadic diet, and along with the peppers and onion tops, fortify sauces for childrens meals and are the basis of many soups. When the first fruit trees come in, fruits such as mangos and papyas will also be dried by the women.
Once dried, the food can then be stored in jars and either kept for the school or sold in local markets, the funds to be invested back into the community and school.
We expect this to be a good stride forward towards food security for Bonfeba, and plan to introduce more solar ovens to future partner communities as an integral part of the RAIN School Market Garden program!
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