Above: Saukani Chatha and one of his daughters in his dry maize field.
Like millions of African subsistence farmers, Saukani Chatha depends on growing maize in the short rainy season to feed his family through the year.
This year was difficult. Saukani’s small plot yielded 3 bags of maize, worth $24. His expenses — seeds, sacks, milling — was $16. His own labor isn’t part of the calculations.
Three months later, no one is surprised that Saukani has no maize to eat. That’s because this is the reality, year after year, of most villagers. Maize as a cash crop has never worked, and it’s clear it never will. The chemical fertilizer and pesticides alone, which burn the soil, make it harder to grow maize with each passing year.
This year, Saukani learned to create a F2F victory garden next to his house. Within weeks, he was harvesting food. In a couple months, Saukani realized he could feed his family of 5 and earn $1.25 a week selling surplus vegetables.
$8 from his maize cash crop. Or $1.25 x 52 weeks from his victory garden.
You can do the math.