New Democrat (Monrovia)

6 February 2013

Liberia: Backyard Gardening Sustains Elderly Woman

As the dry season sets in following the long rainy season, septuagenarian Kebeh Zawu of Barnersville has joined scores of others in cultivating lowlands bordering the high grounds in their community.

Affectionately called the garden Oldma by community members, the 75-year-old woman engages in gardening perennially to earn a living.

Her tasks require digging and laying out partially dry marshy lands (swamp) in rows immediately at the start of

the dry season before planting her crops. Sometimes slashing and burning of weeds are necessary before crops are planted, she said.

In an interview at the weekend, Ma Kebeh said gardening was her only source of living.

"My garden helps me to earn money for food and other things I need for my living," she told this writer, adding:

"Therefore, I feel happy doing this to also help the children and grandchildren that are still living with me."

Concerning productivity, Ma Kebeh said yields of okra, pepper and bitter balls during a good harvest sometimes generate LD9000 to LD10000 in sales at the Red Light market.

She explained that sales are done using the small paint bucket to measure pepper for LD400 for which buyers complain but they still buy our vegetables.

"We, too, make expenses on seeds, implements and fertilizers. So, we need a little bit of profit for living," Ma Keber complained.

Meanwhile, another female gardener, 60-year-old Yassah Flomo of Kebbah community in Barnersville Township who said she has lived on gardening since the death of her husband six years ago, appealed to government local and international NGOs to empower female gardeners with farming tools and other inputs.

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