I often imagine the life of a subsistence farmer in Senegal or other developing countries to be one of the most exhausting. Not only does it require an extreme amount of work performed solely by hand (no heavy machinery here) but it also depends entirely upon the rains delivered by Allah. I just want to take a moment and describe the process of farming here in Senegal, keeping in mind that during only a three-month period, these families MUST cultivate enough to eat from for the entire year.
|The seeding season begins: horizons dotted with machine seeders|
|One example of a machine seeder.|
After a few weeks, the seeding period is over and the nervous wait for germination begins. If rains are inconsistent, problems can easily arise. This year for example, we had very little rain at this time. Plants would often germinate and die from lack of water and extreme sunshine. Those that survived were subjected to an array of pests (with little rain, natural weeds failed to survive in the bush and thus a large population of pests—primarily grasshoppers—turned to the delicious crops in the fields). Farmers were forced to reseed and reseed, sometimes up to three times. You also have to imagine, that with little weeds germinating, there is still close to nothing for these farm animals to eat and yet they are continuously required to pull machinery and seed the fields.
|The fields post seeding.|
|Weeding season begins, machine weeding between lines. |
(two cows, one horse or a one donkey)
|Another weeding example.|
After reading about all this work performed in the fields for farmers to simply get enough food for the following year there is still more to think about… All the funds and food derived from last season is on its last legs during the exact time when farmers need it most. Imagine, working morning and night and not getting enough to eat, or not eating anything of value. This is the life of a subsistence farmer in Senegal.
|Another weeding example (horse).|