The start of the week brought the greenhouse team back into the field for more interviews. With Musa, the main greenhouse extension agent, we visited 4 greenhouses in Stada, Lookingtown, Kunshow, and Conteh—all in the Makeni area. Once again, we discussed both the successes and challenges our greenhouses farmers face, from gender equity to organizational and agronomical problems. We have also been analyzing how greenhouse inputs like soil type, crop spacing, fertilizer type, etc. affect yields between different crops. Embedded within these interviews are questions that reveal farmers’ conceptualizations of water savings.
The long-term importance of water savings may seem obvious, given the effects of climate change and the rapidly growing populations that strain water resources. However, many small-holder farmers in Sierra Leone have their own motivations for saving water, and thus have different ways to conceptualize water savings. This also extends to farmers that are experiencing water shortages during the dry season, as these shortages manifest in different aspects of their day-to-day routine. For example, they may need to get up before dawn to get water from the well, dig deeper wells to reach a receding water table, or spend more time transporting water from the local source. During the interviews, we have been asking farmers if they have noticed any change in watering practices between the greenhouse and open-air farms. We are interested in how this amount of water usage translates to changes in work required, community relations, and the make-up of the greenhouse staff. Findings from this study will inform our teams here on how to encourage water savings in the greenhouses.
Those who remained in the office made a visit to Unicef with Khanjan and Bernadette, the head of World Hope’s Makeni field office, to discuss our current projects to see if they are interested in collaborating in any way. They seemed particularly interested in HESE’s new nutrition venture that is working to incorporate more micronutrients into the diets of new mothers and children under 5. Unicef has known about the greenhouse venture for a while, so they have already assisted us in our implementation phase. After this call, we stopped by the Chairman of Bombali District’s office and spoke with the Chairman and two of his advisors. Khanjan explained all of our projects and goals to accomplish during our time here and the Chairman expressed his utmost appreciation and support. It seems as though he is willing go out of his way to assist in the success of our projects, which we are very thankful for.