Maintenance of Staple Crops In My Garden: Ensuring Food Security
For every community or tribe, there are specific kind of food they eat. It's becoming the culture of every community the kind of food they prefer or often consume by most people. When you come to my area, the type of staple crops eaten by most people are cassava, maize, rice, yam, plantain and cocoyam. Obviously these are the major crops grown by most farmers here. Even though there are other crops which are grown alongside with these staple crops, but we mostly grow the staple crops.
This year has been a very difficult year where food have become very expensive. The rainfall pattern for last year was very erratic. This caused many staple food to be very scarce due to low yield. The hyperinflation is another factor which has caused many inputs for production in large quantity to rise. The price of 50kg of fertilizer is now sold at a price of $45. The price of agrochemicals like weedicides and insecticides have rised. Most farmers are complaining bitterly finding it very difficult to maximize production. Once fuel prices are adjusted, either positive or negative, it affects other market prices. The prices of planting materials and labour cost are something which is very expensive lately.
One major problem we are facing is food crisis due to the expensive of food commodities lately. This has put many people on their toes to embark on home garden as I spoke about it some time ago. It's surprise to note that most household have taken keen interest on backyard garden. At least this would help supplement the large scale farming. It is kinda good practice if most of the inhabitants are adopting home garden to support. But not being like spectator watching Government to solve the problem of food security.
At least most of the home gardens are done on part basis. After normal work, one can hop in and work for some few hours since it's normally closed to the Gardener's house.
In line this, I'm also not being lazy but I'm working tirelessly to to grow some staple crops in my garden. Among these are plantain, cocoyam, yam and cassava. Some of the crops are annual and biennial crops which can be inter crop with other vegetables like egg plant, pepper and okro.
Plantain take more years to complete its life cycle. Even though the fruit can be harvested after eight to nine months after planting. But, the new emergence suckers replace the harvested ones so that the cycle continues. On one piece of garden farm, the Garden can grow the plantain for 10 years if the Garden seek the proper management practices. Since the plantains are grown vegetatively, only the suckers are used for planting. The common management practices I normally adopt is weeding and pruning of the excess branches from the stem.
The planting distance of 3m by 3m is required for good growth. The dead suckers and filled in with the new ones. Among the plantains have many varieties. At 5th month to 6th month, the plantain crops begin to bear flowers and fruiting. Its longer days for the plantain fruits to be matured. Heavy fruits are supported with staking to prevent the plants from uprooting from the soil prematurely.
One of the essential element that plantain fruit provides is "the element iron." As we know the function of iron, it provides to body with helping the haemoglobin, the main source of blood. In Ghanaian local dish, plantain is mixed with cassava to prepare "fufu" which is the pounded mixture of cassava and plantain.
Cocoyam are normally inter crop with plantain. The plantain overshadow the cocoyam since plantains are taller than cocoyam. They are resistant to hot weathers and also comfortable with shade of the plantain but they do well if they are planted alone. Unlike plantain, they can be harvested six months after planting. They can be eaten as "Ampesi" or can also be mixed with cassava for preparing fufu. The corm are used as asexual propagation to multiply. Like the yam, the corms are split into pieces and small mouse are made and bury inside. Most of the local Gardeners grow them purposely for their fresh leaves which are used as vegetables for preparing palava sauce recipe. The vegetable help replenish iron content in the body and good for people suffering from anaemia.
At least having varieties of food in stock would help balance the diet. Of course what would be needed would be meat or fishes with few ingredients. I also have few yams growing in my garden. They are only 15 mouse that I moulded and buried with yam setts. The canopies of their leaves have already covered their stakes. Some management practices like weeding has been done. Their runners have been directed on the stakes for them to climb. I'm waiting for additional 3 months 2 months for me to harvest.
I visited my maize farm which was done in large scale. The cobs are on the verge of drying. All the green covering hask have turned into brown. I have began pruning the excess branches to get some space to sow for the second season. I decided to wait to harvest the dried maize, but this could delay to sowing. I would soon apply the non selective herbicides and begin to sow the grains. Because we depend on the natural rain, everything is calculated.