The old man in the market garden

Why 78-year-old Samba loves market gardening

In Mali, armed conflict has shaped enormous difficulties for the civilian population in the centre of the country. This is a reality that is adding to the existing negative effects of climate change on the lives of millions of people in Mali –circumstances that have led to the path of food insecurity.

In the Mopti region, one of the main areas affected by the multiple difficulties (climate change and insecurity) generating displacement and real food insecurity, we were able to discuss with Samba during a field visit. He is a happy man when he is in the one-hectare market garden site rehabilitated by World Vision in his village.

"Here, we are living in an area with multiple difficulties such as lack of rain and insecurity. That, you know as well as I do. I am very old now, you know. I am 78 years old this year and I am the head of a family of more than 20 people”, He told us during our first exchange.

However, despite his advanced age, Samba seems to be passionate about market gardening because. He revealed to us that, after the rainy season, this is the main activity he likes to do to stay active and to alleviate the food insecurity in his large family.

"I have never liked to be idle. Idleness is a very bad thing. I really like to be busy. The only thing for me after the harvest is market gardening. However, in recent years I have had to deal with the adverse effects of climate change”, he added. "Unfortunately, I lack the necessary means to develop my activity that I have been doing for years. As you know, an activity like this one is only profitable when you have adequate materials.”

Addressing the livelihood resilience of vulnerable households affected by climate change and insecurity, World Vision has been strongly promoting market gardening through its community resilience-building programme in the centre of the country since 2020.

"We received an important assistance from the project by World Vision; they have developed our several-metre market garden. It was not fenced and had water problem. Now, thanks to God and World Vision, it is well fenced and the two wells inside of it have been rehabilitated." Samba said. "Currently, I started to earn a little. I just harvested my onion from which I have gained 200 kilos. The price of a kilo of it (onion) is flexible; it now costs 400 XOF (0.74 USD) here in our commune.”

According to Samba, despite financial advantages that he encountered in selling vegetables, he did not think of selling a single crumb of his onion.

"I really did not want to sell my vegetables; we all ate them as a family", he says. "I think if I had sold them, I would have ended up selling more with neighbours eventually. Now, I am planting okra after the onion harvest. I hope that in a month and a half, I will start harvesting okra again and my family will still enjoy it."

Samba is very grateful to World Vision for all the support that he continues to receive. Nevertheless, not everything has been yet achieved, as our host Samba would like the resilience project to support them with a borehole in the market garden to finish with the water shortages that they unfortunately are still facing.

In less than three years, World Vision has completed or rehabilitated five hectares of market gardening sites in the commune of Sio in the Mopti region, with three drilled boreholes in two of the different market gardening sites, but not yet in the one in Samba. He is confident that their day will come.