Often on this blog we write about general development issues and how they play out in our local Seed Change context. Not today. It’s straight local context and no wider issues. A Seed Change progress report. An update even.
Those of you playing along at home may remember that three months ago we planted 60,000+ hybrid oil palm seeds in our newly expanded greenhouse. You can refresh your memories about that one here. Well how time flies and don’t they just grow up so fast these days as the time has come for the seedlings to leave their cosy greenhouse and settle into the field nursery.
And what a field nursery it is! All the mod-cons a three-month old hybrid oil palm seedling could ever want. Fully irrigated – check. Fertile loam soil pre-mixed with organic cow manure – check. Bags equally spaced in equilateral triangles for the most efficient use of land and irrigation while providing plenty of room to grow – check. And did you say ‘what about the view!?’ Well there is no view. They are seedlings after all and don’t have eyes.
But seriously, transplanting will begin tomorrow with the biggest seedlings transplanted first. All seedlings are tracked from the box they arrived from Costa Rica, through the greenhouse and right throughout the year. In fact, our Costa Rican colleagues can even trace the seed back to the block on their farm where it came from. Some seeds have sprouted two shoots. These conjoined twin seedlings will be delicately separated when they leave the greenhouse and planted in a special section of the field nursery (in neighbouring bags of course). This allows us to track their progress carefully and provide special attention to each. Sadly, it is likely that only one seedling will be strong enough to survive.
The seedlings will stay in the field nursery for the next nine months. They will be tended to by our full time nursery staff. Fertilised, irrigated, and nourished by oodles of Tanzanian sun. By December or January, they will have out grown the nursery and be ready to head out into the big bad world to change a farmer’s life.