Thursday, June 22, 2006


A Tomato Nursery
Throughout most of Niger, people tend to divide production of food into two main categories: cold season garden crops and rainy season staple food crops. The rainy season begins in June and lasts through September. The cold season spans December through February. In my region, during the cold season, the farmers focus on the production of cabbage and onions. However, in recent years the onion market has become flooded, driving the price down. Farmers are having to sometimes double their inputs in order to gross the sales of the previous year. In order to address this problem and for reasons both environmental and nutritional, one of the goals of the agriculture sector of Peace Corps in Niger is to encourage crop diversification. Although tomatoes aren't a part of my villages garden repertoire, they are a popular sauce ingredient, are often dried for later use, and can be found in the bigger village of Gidan Iddar, 5k away.
ICRISAT ( ) the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics, has developed a variety of tomato which produces fruit during the rainy season. This variety, called ICRIXINA, is an openly pollinated variety, which means that the seeds of the fruits in the next generations will be viable. These tomatoes will give fruit in September, considered by all here to be the most difficult time of the agricultural year because just prior to harvest, grain stores are nearly, if not totally depleted, and access to fruits and vegetables is limited. The small scale production of tomatoes in Gidan Aduwa (my village) will not only diversify their diets, but create a marketable product, if there is surplus. Oh, and I get to eat salsa all summer long.
The World Wise Schools Program
The aim of this program is to satisfy the third goal of the Peace Corps, which is essentially to share Nigerien culture with Americans. I've found a teacher of a 4th grade classroom of 16 students in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. After Labor Day we will begin correspondence. If you are, or you know of any teacher (any level) who would be interested in establishing a formal or informal link between their students and I with the goal of cultural exchange, please post a comment and I will respond as soon as possible.
AIDS Bike Ride

So towards the end of November, while most of you are working on your second helping of sweet potato casserole (and I say that with the utmost envy), I'll be lubing up my green Trek preparing for the annual AIDS awareness bike ride. We will cover just under 200 kilometers in the week, ending on December 1st, World AIDS Day.  The mission of the Bike Ride is to inform Nigerien men, women, and youth about AIDS transmission and prevention, to stress the importance of testing and treatment through the testimony of HIV-positive Nigeriens, and to attract attention to the hard work being done by countless Nigeriens and members of the international community in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Niger. And you don't even have to let go of those holiday pounds in order to contribute to the cause, just send your donations of bike parts, energy foods, etc. to:

 Corps de la Paix - Attn: Natalie Beck and Becky Hartz - BP 10537 - Niamey, Niger - West Africa




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8:18 AM  

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