Grafting New Ideas

For the past couple of months that we’ve spent in Tabora, we’ve dedicated most of our time to just getting to know the community. However, we are quickly approaching a transition point in our nine month stay which will eventually lead to the implementation of a project custom-made for our community. At this point, one of our most important decisions is choosing the individuals in Tabora with whom we would like to work most closely.

One morning this past week, we split up in order to satisfy multiple sudden invitations. Ros and Rachael headed to another village nearby called Rutuba in order to talk to the Bwana Shamba there. Our ward has two Bwana Shambas: Bwana Muya, and Bibi Kaghembe. Our meeting with the first did not go so well, his personality is rather overbearing, and he was suspicious of our presence in Tabora. We also have seen little evidence of the work that he does. That morning however, Bibi Mariamu Kaghembe proved herself to be all that we could ask for in a Bwana Shamba. She met with Ros and Rachael promptly, and was courteous and enthusiastic to see them. She seems to be active in her work in Rutuba and we hope dearly that she will be available to come to Tabora to work with us.

Ros and Rachael spent the morning discussing the challenges of agricultural education with her. She revealed that many people understand agricultural best practices very well, they just choose not to implement them. The causes for this are varied, but one of the ones that really caught our attention was the statement that many people choose to farm so that they get an immediate return rather than plant crops that take longer to cultivate but yield vastly greater profits when they are ready.

At the same time that Ros and Rachael were discussing the lack of future-thinking,  I was watching one of our current close contacts graft oranges onto lime trees he planted from seeds eighteen months ago. Moses, who I’ve written about before, already has fruit bearing trees on his shamba, and also farms sweet potatoes, maize, and cow peas. One day he hopes to turn this shamba into a dedicated orchard, where he will cultivate oranges and limes, as well as mangoes and teak. The oranges he is currently grafting will begin bearing fruit in three years, at which time he will ship them by car to Nairobi, Kenya to a juice factory. (His current oranges, which come from only a few trees, he sells in Tabora only) The teak he recently planted will be ready for harvest for lumber and will fetch 25,000 TSH when sold, a significant profit over the 500 TSH he spent on each seed. He even told me that this shamba is to be purely a money-making venture, a unique viewpoint in a society where the profits of a farm are only a secondary consideration.

While Moses still has two other shambas which will probably always produce primarily maize, his thought process in planting his fruit and teak trees and making a dedicated orchard, show a capacity for planing multiple years into the future. This is exactly the sort of thought we want to encourage in Tabora, and it is exactly the sort of quality we are looking for in our primary partners. How great would it be to find a way to graft this sort of forethought into other minds in the community!

If you would like to see the process of grafting oranges, here’s a video of Moses working in his shamba:


About Joshua Paul

Due to his father's military background, Joshua spent his childhood moving throughout the continental United States. Though he did not travel out of the country until his teens, Joshua has been interested in cultural anthropology and linguistics as long as he can remember. A recent graduate from St. John's College in Annapolis with a B. A. in Liberal Arts, he has studied ancient Greek and French for literary purposes. He currently lives near Boise, Idaho.
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