Third World farming II

11 02 2011

The power went off in a storm last night. It was probably a tree falling on the lines. Getting to work this morning the foreman told me that the backup diesel engine was not starting from 2 weeks ago. Apparently nobody had told him until today. We have another smaller backup diesel pump and that was pressed into service whilst I tackled the bigger one. It appears to be a fuel problem but I could not solve it so went off to find some 110mm PVC piping to replace another section of pipe that is perpetually splitting, probably due to the excessively high pressure from the over-sized electric pump. We did have a pressure reducer but I can no longer find a reducer to give us the 2 bars necessary to run the various sprinklers. I can find one that reduces to 1.1 bars but that is insufficient. Amazingly I found the pipes and fittings at an outlet in Borrowdale that curiously advertises itself with a pneumatic chested young lass in a very small bikini “For the best after sales service and much more!”. I guess sex sells. I am almost certain I could have sourced the pipes and fittings for far less in the industrial sites but that was a good hour round trip so I paid over the top. The power was still not on when I got back to the nursery and as filling the emergency tanks was a priority, fixing the leaking pipe will have to wait until tomorrow.

I had an American guest recently. When I told her how much my staff were paid I detected a faintly accusing air of exploitation. I explained that our productivity was nothing like that in the USA but it was only earlier this week that I could quantify it.

On Wednesday we started packing sweet potato cuttings that we’d taken into boxes of 200 cuttings each for an NGO. The total requirement was 227,000 which I knew would take 2 days. At the end of Wednesday only 84,000 had been packed. So yesterday I told the foreman supervising this that the women could go when they’d finished and they would still be paid a full day’s wage. The balance of 143,000 cuttings was packed by 14h30!

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