Cooking with Kate in Kenya
It's Not Easy Being Family

Gender planting?!


Last week, we did some farming. A friend of ours has 2 acres. We hired a tractor to dig it up. Then we bought seeds and fertiliser to do some planting. (We'll get a percentage of the crops and give them away to the community after the harvest).

When it came down to plant the seeds, we kept hearing the guys talk about 'Women must plant the beans, and men plant corn.'

Johnny and I were a bit confused. WHY? Why does it matter who plants what? This is a culture full of superstition so we were quite curious.

So we did some research... Ok, we just asked. But before I tell you the answer, let me explain something about the culture, and try to tell a joke at the same time...

<ahem.> Ok, so when I call a plumber or a carpenter to do a job for me, usually he asks me for the tools! I now own a plumbers' wrench, a saw, and a level among other simple tools, just for when I need a plumber or carpenter to fix something.

However, when a farmer hires people to till the land and plant seed, they 'bring their own hoes.' (Ok, that was a bad joke, I know, but it's true). One can see men carrying their hoes over their shoulders to the work site.

What we learned is that women workers use a smaller tool called a panga (machete) when planting. SO when the workers come to plant, the men have the large hoes for digging bigger holes for the corn, and the women have a smaller 'knife' to poke holes next to the big holes for planting the beans.

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