James Koroma is Impact Sierra Leone’s newest Board Member and a lead farmer participating in the Kampala Agricultural Farm (KAF) pilot initiative. Prior to Sierra Leone implementing a ban on non-essential travel in many areas, Mr. Koroma left the Waterloo region where he lived on April 10th to travel to his home village Woro, one of the villages participating in Kampala’s Farming Initiative.
The purpose of the trip was to begin the cultivation of vegetables, something he did routinely throughout the year. This year was especially different not just because of COVID-19, but KAF established a partnership with Impact Sierra Leone. This meant that the farmers had to be more strategic at how crops were grown and distributed in order to qualify for funding. They also needed to figure out how to make the most impact on reversing food insecurity, mal-nutrition – both contributing factors to the nation’s poverty rate.
At the time of Mr. Koroma’s visit to his home village in April, corn and hot peppers were ready for cultivation. At the beginning of this project, Mr. Koroma recognized, and the other farmers agreed that certain crops should be prioritized according to the season and which crops required fertilizer. Crops were divided into 2 groups. First, corn, peppers and later cucumbers were cultivated, then cassava, potatoes and groundnuts which consists of the second group. Dividing the cultivation times into two groups is cost-effective for the farmers and the communities they serve. The first group grows without the application of fertilizer while the latter requires it, meaning there is more time to acquire funds for fertilizer.
Why Cucumbers are a Valuable Crop
Cucumbers are the most recent type of vegetable added to the list of crops approved for growing. Cucumbers are planted year-round depending on the soil and season and the time it takes for them to fully mature is 40 days. This is true if the cucumber seeds are of better quality than the local variety. If local seeds are used to grow, then the planting to harvesting time can take as long as 90 days. There are several benefits for growing cucumbers. They can be grown on ridges, flat ground, and flat beds so they are easy to grow. They are also easy to sell, helps to lower blood pressure for those diagnosed with high blood pressure and the general population. Cucumbers that are grown beyond maturity leave seeds for future planting. Cucumbers can also be planted during the dry season but in swampy areas or lowlands.
If you are thinking about growing cucumbers, Mr. Koroma suggests you consider the following actions:
- Get the seeds that are 100% viable
- Prepare the farm by brushing, burning, clearing stumps
- Prepare either ridges, flat ground, or flat beds
- Use manure or chicken dung
- Dig round holes on the beds, ridges, or flat ground
- Put some manure or chicken dung in the holes
- Mix the soil and the dung
- Plant the required number of cucumber seeds per hole which is normally three. Maximum is four seeds.
- Insecticide that kills insects (Optional)
Impact Sierra Leone is grateful to have such knowledgeable farmers and staff on the ground to lead our farming projects. Mr. Koroma is one of several farmers on the ground helping to make these efforts successful. They are helping to improve agricultural practices and reduce hunger and poverty in Sierra Leone. They are serving as an example to other areas of the country and in the region of how communities can ban together to improve their quality of life.
Writen by : Yeabu Conteh