Project Potato

In 1998 notices were put up in Rakitovo inviting families to apply to join the scheme. From more than 400 applicants, 65 were selected for the pilot scheme, which we financed.

The families each had to negotiate to “rent” a plot of about 700-1000 square metres from local landowners. The plots, which had not been used for agriculture for many years, were ploughed (twice) and harrowed by machinery. The families were then given training by agricultural experts, 220 kg of seed potatoes,  onion seeds, tools (spades and hoes), fertilisers for the land and chemical sprays for insect, weed and mildew control were also provided. Then they were launched into action!

How it worked out

Each plot, on average, produced 900kg of potatoes. Of these, 220kg were stored for “seed”and 80kg sold to pay for fertiliser and chemicals for the following year. 50kg was paid as rent to the landowner and 400kg of the remainder will feed a family of 5, plus grandparents, for the entire winter. The remaining 150kg were available for trading for other supplies such as bread.

The cost of the above is £200 per family. Thus for only £200, a family can be set up to be self-sufficient on a continuing basis. Each year we launch another 30-40 families to grow their own food.