Salimata Traore was a timid young woman when she was selected to be a candidate in the FarmQuest project. While shyness is not an ideal trait for a reality show contestant, Salimata’s personal experiences around market gardening provided a compelling story illustrative of the struggle for gender equality faced by women across rural Africa.
With past experience growing vegetables, Salimata was keen to start a market garden to help provide for her four children. However, she was prevented from doing so by her father-in-law, who preferred that she work in the family fields instead. Thankfully, her mother-in-law — who saw both the economic and personal value of Salimata’s garden — was able to convince him to allow her to join the FarmQuest project as a market gardener. He even gave Salimata a large plot of land next to the family compound to help her get started.
Salimata’s journey wasn’t easy. Poor seeds that did not germinate well meant that her first efforts would yield poor results. Only her cucumber crop was strong enough to bring to the local market. However, she learned important lessons for the next planting season.
Later on, following the advice of an agronomist, she became the first farmer in her region to grow potatoes. Potatoes can be stored until it is most favourable to sell and demand would be great because of limited supply.
As the FarmQuest project came to a close, Salimata had gained not only valuable farming experience, but also a great deal of confidence.
We hope that you enjoyed learning about Salimata’s farming experience and will stay tuned to meet the next FarmQuest candidate. (If you just can’t wait for the next video, see below.)
Made possible with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, FarmQuest was a reality radio program broadcast in Mali to encourage youth to consider farming as a legitimate and profitable career choice, and not just a means of subsistence, by following six farmers competing to be named “best young farmer of the year.” Learn more about about the project by checking out the following links:
– FarmQuest audio (in Bambara with English transcripts)
– “Can a reality show really deliver aid to Africa?” (article in the Toronto Star by Marc Ellison)