Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Life on the farm..

Pasted below is the weekly email I get from Zamani Farms in Jos - it shows how difficult life has become with the sudden switch to 10% VAT and petrol price increases - and their inflationary effects.

"Hello customers,

There are a few issues to mention for next week’s order: Next week Tuesday a general strike is scheduled. At this point we do not know what is going to happen, whether it will hold, or be called off. We are assuming we will be able to deliver as usual, but if not, we will let you know. We will have to assess the situation on Monday and see if the strike will take place, and if so, whether we will be able to deliver. As usual, it is difficult to plan ahead, but we will assume that things will be OK and we will take orders for Tuesday delivery as usual.

As you know, the increase in VAT to 10%, plus the increase in the cost of petrol, has let to higher costs of just about everything. Our costs of production will certainly go up, as petrol is one of our major inputs, both in terms of irrigation (we run 5 petrol pumps during the dry season) and fuel for our delivery van and other transport expenses. Like everyone else, we are contemplating a price increase. It has been over three years since we last increased prices, but higher running costs will probably make this inevitable. Some of our suppliers, including our friends at The Mushroom Factory who supply us with mushrooms, as well as those from whom we get potatoes, onions, etc, have all informed us that their prices will go up. At this point we have not yet decided on details, and are still thinking about it. We will let you know, but most likely any price increase will take effect from 1 July.

To continue with the bad news – we had another hail storm on the farm on Saturday afternoon. It was not as severe as the previous one, but it was enough to damage a lot of our lettuce. The very young lettuce that we have in the farm will recover and grow new leaves, but on Monday we had to pick most of the larger heads, even though they were slightly damaged, because if we were to leave them in the fields they would rot and turn black. So lettuce will be in short supply for the next couple of weeks. The lower part of the farm, which is more protected by large trees, was not so affected, so we will still have some lettuce to supply, although the heads will be on the small side. But it will take a few weeks of reasonable weather before we can get back to our usual quantity and variety. If you order lettuce, we will supply the best possible ones we have for that day, and if there are many orders we might have to ration.

Other items, however, were fortunately not affected and we should have reasonable quantities of most of our crops.

Our courgettes are coming back well from the first hail storm, and by next week we should be getting good quantities of them. In addition to the green, we should have some cousa and yellow ones. The yellow crookneck squash is also starting, and there will be a very small amount for next week.

We don’t have much winter squash, as we are waiting for the next crop of butternuts to mature.

Our herbs are all fine, and in good quantity, including all the basils (Genovese, Thai, lemon, baby, red and cinnamon) coriander/cilantro, arugula, oregano, marjoram, lemon balm, lemon grass, flat and curly parsley, mint and spearmint, chives and garlic chives, savory, and all the others. In addition to using them in cooking, they also make nice additions to salads, and give them an added zest.

We have nice leeks, spring onions, celery, radishes (both red and white), and a small amount of fennel. Beetroots are in limited quantity, and are generally not as nice as they are in the dry season. Carrots are in reasonable supply, and although they don’t look beautiful their taste is OK. We have planted a new variety on the farm that we are trying out, and they should be ready in about a month or so.

We will have very little broccoli for the next few weeks, as many of the mature plants were damaged by the hail (both storms). New ones are on the way, but they take a couple of months. We should be able to have some ready for supplying in about two weeks or so. From the old batch we can only pick a small amount.

Red cabbage and kohlrabi are also on the way, but will not be ready to pick for a few weeks. We will let you know when they are ready.

Our next batch is sweet corn is coming along well, and we should have some to supply in about 2 weeks or so.

Cucumbers, both pickling and salad types, are lovely at the moment and in reasonable quantity.

We have most greens, except for spinach, which will not really be available for next week. The new batch should be ready by the following week, but it grows very slowly in the rainy season. Meanwhile, we have lots of collard greens, kale, sorrel, and Swiss Chard, as well as lovely young Bok Choi and Chinese cabbage. Green cabbage is also available from the new crop, although the heads are rather smaller than the ones we usually supply.

The first batch of new potatoes (rainy season crop) is starting to come in to the market. At the moment they are very small, but nice. If you need them please let us know and we will try to get them for you. If you don’t specify new potatoes, we will continue to supply the older, but larger, ones that are available.

We still have lots of delicious avocados if you need them.

Oyster mushrooms are available, but probably not in very large quantity. If you need them, please order early."


Fred 3:18 pm  

I've enjoyed reading these missives from the local farm. So well-written and delightful! And in Nigeria!
Hope they continue... and do keep us informed.

Anonymous,  3:39 pm  

Could you please post a link to the web site for Zamani farms if you have it? many thanks

Jeremy 5:31 pm  

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