01 September 2012
Seeds for The Gambia
Drought in West Africa
Please collect vegetable seeds for Gambian villagers at Harvest Festivals
The 2011-12 West African drought resulted in severe crop failures in The Gambia, with an overall reduction in production of about 70%. In some villages the harvest failed completely, and even where a harvest was gathered, there was only enough for about 2 months' food. Normally the farmers are able to provide food for 4-6 months before the villagers need to purchase from outside. Prices of locally produced food soared, and large increases in world food prices mean that imported food is also very expensive.
a vegetable garden ready for seed sowing
The drought has also reduced the availability of seeds for planting future crops and here we may be able to help. A few years ago, a number of schools and churches used their Harvest Festivals to collect packets of seeds to send to us, for Pageant to take out to The Gambia. Harvest Festivals mostly happen about mid-September, and the best time for sowing vegetable seeds in The Gambia is after the rains have finished in October. This coincides with the regular visit of the Pageant team, who can take out the packets of seeds. So if you are associated with a church, school, scouts or guides group or similar, you still have time to organise something. Also, if you are visiting a garden centre, look out for packets of seed being sold off cheap at the end of the UK sowing season. The most popular seeds to send to The Gambia are tomatoes (specially the large ones), onions, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, aubergines, peppers, parsley and courgettes.
a school vegetable garden with some healthy vegetables
Most Gambian schools have vegetable gardens, which not only serve as teaching aids, but also supply produce for the school kitchens - helping to feed the children.
children with donated packets of seeds
If you can collect any packets of seed, please send them to:
Pippa and Ian Howard,
Old School, Worthing Road,
West Sussex. RH13 9DT.
The packets will be taken out when the Pageant team next visit The Gambia towards the end of October. These seeds will be of immense value to both school and village gardens, helping to alleviate the effects of the food shortage in these communities.