On our journeys we, at Seeds of Africa, met a lot of interesting people, people that are as passionate about this work as we are and here we want to shed some light on these brothers and sisters and share some of their stories. As you can imagine we have to be obscure about location and identities but we wish to take you on our journey with us.
We have compiled a short questionnaire so as to compare differences and similarities in the lives of people from different areas of this continent. As you can imagine to reach the people and fields that bring you these potent buds and seeds takes planning, time and more time! Trust needs to be built; there have been running battles with the authorities in some of these hard to reach villages and there is an understandable mistrust of strangers. There have been stories from growers were the police come and take their stash and money but don’t take anyone to court! So the people stand up and say NO… You can take either my plants or my money but not both. The people rise and actually ambush the authorities, which does stop the total abuse of power for a time. Can you imagine for a moment (it may be a bit tricky) a mistrusting police force that want
some extra pounds in their pay packet coming up against a group of people with more purpose than anyone in “Anonymous”! Guns are drawn and the people have so much desperation that they pull those guns away. Yes you are right it would make an amazing movie and that is the only place most of us would ever witness such an event.
People, we must not underestimate the strength and determination of these farmers, the endurance that they have to cope with in their everyday lives is unimaginable for must of us. Many of us have been to Amsterdam where we taste Durban Poison or Moroccan hash or our ‘ole reliable’ African Weed and don’t think of the hardships the primary worker goes through never mind the packer and shipper. Some of these farmers are adding a few seeds among the maize crops to add a few more pennies into their pot but some are experts that have even created their own strains and have their Year Planner down to a fine art. Unfortunately in some countries the authorities have other tricks up their sleeves which has been funded for years by a well known US corporate pesticide/seed company. Helicopters are used to spray crops with pesticides. They are not careful where and what they spray so people and animals are caught in the dosing which burns and causes respiratory problems. Other crops are also sprayed which then leaves the people food-less as well as penny-less. Yes my friend there is no logic to their madness, the cruelty is beyond measure but the persistence of the people is stronger and they will dig out a new patch and continue this work. We have met growers that are totally new and fresh that are still learning the difference between male and female plants, we have met some that stick to their landrace and without realising are doing us all a wonderful favour, we have met some that have access to international seed and grow primary outdoor bud for the rich city folk and we have met some that really don’t care what they throw in among their food crops. So as we do our travels we bring you snippets of our trips and the people we meet through our pictures and interviews.
PLEASE NOTE: WHERE EVER YOU SEE THE FACE OF A PERSON BE AWARE THAT THEY ARE NOT GROWERS JUST MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC.
How long have you been growing?
Youtman: 1st time.
Mrs: Yoh, since I met Mr in 2003.
Mr: Since I came out of jail in 2000. I wanted to stop transporting and grow for myself.
How many strains?
Mrs: Usually 3-5.
Mr: All depends on weather and seeds available 4-5.
What do you have in this crop?
Youtman: Pondo and Kush.
Mrs: Exodus Cheese, Strawberry Haze, Buba Cush.
Mr: Pure Cush own seed, harvesting OJ and cheese.
How many crops per year?
Youtman: As many as possible.
Mrs: This year is near all year round.
Do you grow a landrace?
Youtman: Yah man, Pondo
Mrs: No they all cross, some of our strains are crossed with Landrace.
Mr: No more, it is always available but High Grade is better business.
Do you use pesticide and fertiliser?
Youtman: No no no man!
Mrs: My smaller personal garden is 100% organic, i use marigold leaves as pesticide. Commercially we use minimal pesticides, sea-grow fertiliser.
Mr: Minimum pesticides, 90% organic.
Do you use for medecine? If so, what for?
Youtman: Yes to relieve anxiety and stress depression and inflammation.
Mrs: Yes as tea, oil and smoke. Cough, pain and Asthma.
Mr: Obviously yes….haha
Is it used culturally?
Mrs: Since childhood its been used as tea for cough and pain. I remember the old papas would give their horses ganja to smoke before a long journey. They would make fire in a funnel and let them smoke.
Mr: Ya as a Rasta in the community we use it.
How does it help you and your family?
Youtman: Yes it helps us to pay when we are sick.
Mrs: It helps us with everything that we need in family. Even granny says she is only here because Mr gave her spliff when she was very sick, it put her right and she still has a small spliff before breakfast and bed.
Mr: Everything and anything.
Is life good?
Youtman: Life is better.
Mrs: Yes it is.
Mr: Life is super good but still troublesome as popularity brings its own
set of problems. You become a bit of a target, as I prosper enemies grow.
What else grows in your garden?
Youtman: Many veg to fed the family; sisters, mother and grandmother.
Mrs: Butternut, pumpkin, squash, corn, lettuce, Chinese cabbage,basil, peppers.. some new fruit tress and coffee. I enjoy my garden.
Mr: During the winter, lots of veg.
What do you do with your trim?
Youtman: I use it in the garden.
Mrs: Hash and compost.
Mr: Until 2 yrs ago it went on the garden. Now i know more about other options such as hash.
Originally published in Weed World Magazine 121