Rule of thumb for our microcredit:
If you try it once it is an experiment; A second time if it worked well, as a promising approach; A third time it becomes implemented as a program.
For the second time, the ‘seed fund’ with potatoes has been a great success in our second village (Fiarenana). Each participant got 2 kg (approx. 5 lbs US) of potatoes in June. Potatoes had been planted after the rice harvest in the same fields that are currently being prepared for the next rice crop again. Each farmer was able to harvest between 20 - 40 kg of potatoes from the 2 kilos of seed stock, a great return on our initial investment of 200kg of potatoes. (See our website for last year’s experiment.)
In contrast to the last time farmers did not only eat all the potatoes in the “époque dure”, the hard time between rice harvests. Some sold potatoes in the neighboring small town to get access to much needed cash. In contrast, one farmer, who decided not to sell his crop said: “It does not make sense to sell potatoes in the market and turn around in the market and spent the money on buying rice to eat. So we ate all of our own potatoes instead and it was very tasty”. This is an amazing development in itself, in a culture where rice is the only food considered a “real” meal (see our webpage on rice).
This second time around the Zahana gardener in the village encouraged everybody to keep some of the smaller potatoes as seed stock for the next planting season. He also agreed to continuously cultivate potatoes all year round to test is they can be planted in other seasons as well successfully.
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