Saturday, May 2, 2015

Malawi vs Moldova - Agriculture


Economy - Moldova is founded on it's agriculture. Their 2 biggest exports are agriculture based. Most people in Moldova, particularly in the villages, have large gardens where they grow almost all of their own fruits and vegetables that they eat throughout the year, whether fresh, canned, or pickled. 

Major food crops - Porumb (corn) is used mostly for animal feed and then the corn cobs are used in soba's for cooking fires or heating. Other major food crops are grapes, cabbage, and potatoes.

Minor food crops, vegetables - Tomatoes, onions, garlic, cucumbers, pumpkins, carrots.

Minor food crops, fruits - Apples, pears, melons.

Minor food crops, nuts - Walnuts.

Major export crops - WINE from grapes (obviously) is Moldova's biggest and most lucrative export crop, followed by sunflower seed products - seeds and oil.

Animal agriculture - Just like most villagers have large gardens, they almost all have at least chickens as well, usually just for the eggs, but sometimes for the meat. It is very common to also have geese, ducks, pigs, cows, and goats. Mama-G has chickens only. I think that's mostly because she is a widow and any more livestock would probably be too much work! 

Growing season - April - September. They say winter here is from November - April, so it definitely gets too cold here in the winter to grow, unless you have a greenhouse, which i have seen a few. So in the winter there is a lot of canned and pickled foods, and hardy foods like potatoes and potatoes.

Fertility - Hmmmmm...back in the day when Moldova was occupied by the Soviet Union, chemical pesticides and fertilizers were used abundantly. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and Moldova's subsequent independence, it is said that Russia actually dumped TONS of these chemicals in the wells causing major problems in their once very fertile soils (Moldova used to be known as the "breadbasket" of the Soviet Union because so many crops were grown here that were exported throughout the Soviet Union). I have also heard that once they stopped using so many chemicals, there was/is no safe place to store them, so there are TONS of those chemicals sitting in abandoned warehouses, leaking into the soil due to rust and erosion. ...BUT, whenever I am presented with fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden (which is like very meal in the summer), I am always told that they are "natural" and "organic" and "fresh from the garden" and they wash them off in the i'm not really sure about the chemical situation here...if villagers use chemicals on their own crops or not...if so, how much? Dunno.

Farm equipment - I've seen tractors used in commercial farmlands, but in peoples' personal gardens, it's all by hand with very minimal equipment. Moldovan's are a very hard-working people!


Economy - Malawi is primarily a rural, agricultural country. Most of the population are subsistence farmers. Even people with professional employment will usually plant maize for their families to eat.

Major food crops - Maize (aka corn) is the staple crop here, and everyone plants hectares of it to feed their families. Other major food crops grown include potatoes (sweet and Irish), cassava and groundnuts (peanuts).

Minor food crops, vegetables - Tomatoes and onions are grown year-round. A variety of seasonal produce is grown including okra, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, carrots, green peppers, hot peppers and a number of greens (rape, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, mustard).

Minor food crops, fruits - Tropical fruits galore! Mangos, papaya, guava, bananas, avocados, passion fruit, oranges, limes and lychees. Pineapples are planted in fields in my district, but most other fruit trees are just randomly scattered about. You don't usually see them planted in an orchard. 

Minor food crops, nuts - Besides groundnuts (which are actually legumes) they grow macadamia nuts in Thyolo.

Major export crops - Tobacco is grown in the Central region and tea in the South. Sugarcane is also grown here. (I tried some really fresh sugarcane last week and it was delicious. Sweet and refreshing.)

Animal agriculture - Most everyone has a few chickens running around. The better off families have goats and/or cows too. There is some hay grown in my area to feed the dairy cows.

Growing season - Year-round because it doesn't freeze here, although without irrigation most people only plant for rainy season.

Fertility - Commercial fertilizer is available at a discount due to government subsidies. People also use manure.

Conservation practices - They use contour farming in my area. Most of the maize residue is tilled in after harvest, though they do burn some residue when preparing fields for planting. Farming is typically organic due to the high cost of chemical inputs. They practice dry land farming. Monoculture is prevalent due to maize being the staple crop.

Farm equipment - Everything is by hand here, from planting to weeding to harvesting. The tools of the trade are a khasu (hoe), a panga knife (machete) and elbow grease.

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