Upon returning from the Christmas holiday at the school, we discovered that unfortunately, most of the plants in the system had not survived. However, this does not necessarily reflect on our system because the plants were not actually large enough to be transplanted. After the Christmas holiday, we discovered that the seed bed which the school gardener had made was not good. He had not added any nutrients to the seed bed, which caused the seedlings to grow very slowly and still be too weak when we transplanted them into our systems. Furthermore, the water level in the oil cans had dropped too much, which prevented the small seedlings from absorbing water properly. Only the seedlings with larger, stronger roots survived and are still growing. Since there were no new seedlings available and we did not have time to wait for them, we could not continue working at the school and instead focused on the progress of the project after our departure. The school is still interested in exploring hydroponics and wants to continue with the project!
In the previous update, we talked about Aziz, who is also willing to continue the project! Therefore, we spent a few days at the Agriculture Center, where he is the manager, to help him set up his own hydroponics system. We made a similar system to the one at the school, but with some improvements.
For the progress of the project, we have set up a hydroponics team of 5 people who have knowledge of hydroponics and are motivated to continue the project. Among them are Aziz and the school teacher. Also, Otto Koesen, our project advisor from the Netherlands, wants to continue the project. He can share his knowledge from the Netherlands and is willing to send nutrients and pumps from there. As long as it remains small-scale, he has a small budget available for it. In addition, the group will do more research on the availability of nutrients and importing from Senegal because this will be an easier and cheaper way. Moreover, Aziz's Agriculture Center is a place where many women from the community gardens can come, and he will ensure that the system eventually ends up with them. Together with Aziz, we went to the women of the community garden where we want to implement the system. We explained what we had researched and that Aziz will continue with it to make it possible to implement a system in community gardens in the future. The women of this community garden plan to visit Aziz weekly to see his system. We created a WhatsApp group with the team members to keep in touch easily.
We hope that this hydroponics group can continue in Gambia and that eventually, a shop can be started with the necessary supplies that are not yet available so that it can continue to grow.