Up country, in the middle of nowhere, somewhere near Ghana, is an instructive agricultural project run by Ken Wineback, agricultural projects director for Mercyships. Ken has brought together 3 Togoan NGO’s to train young people in new organic agricultural techniques. The results are astonishing.
Classically the local poeple would slash and clear the land and plant Corn or Cassava. Trouble is in many areas the soil is relatively poor, the heat scorches off the water and when it rains the soil is washed away. Farmers are forced to use fertilizer to replenish the nutrients and carry water continuously . But, Ken has worked out (testing this technique in Texas- equally hot) that the soil has microbes at different levels that break down and convert organic matter, so he promotes minimal digging and turning of the soil (retaining moisture and microbes) , covering the soil with the cut grasses and vegetation ( to retain moisture, nutrients and provide a protective mulsh to keep down weeds) and planting Corn and Beans in alternate measure in simple protective holes.
The effect is dramatic- against a control group of traditional Corn farming on an adjacent strip, the organic Corn not only is three times higher, but also requires less watering, no fertilizing and yields a good crop, as opposed to virtually none. The weeds are less and the alternation with Beans means that nitrogen is naturally returned to the soil. The dozen farmers on this project have all graduated with flying colours and are now primed to spread the word and train others in the technique. To celebrate their work, we all enjoyed a delicious lunch of rice, fresh corn on the fire, and spicey chicken prepared under a mango tree .
Further along the road is an animal farm project, breeding rabbits, goats and hens. Fed on local shrubs and animal feed, the rabbits are fat, beautiful and selling fast at 4,000 sefas ( about £5) each – good money. Adjacent are Moringo trees that provide unbeatable nutritional value ( vitamins, calcium,high energy ) from thier leaves and feed animals and humans alike. So powerful is Moringo as a food supplement we all should be eating it to boost our systems ( especially the old).
Togo has enormous potential for agriculture, its luschious, wet and with much good soil. With appropriate husbandry and organic techniques there is more than enough land to create a thriving agricultural economy.Spread the word.