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The wild spiny aubergine hunt

2 Posts tagged with the tea tag
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The Southern Highlands of Tanzania are much cooler than the rest of the country, with plantations of tea and quinine. Driving through the tea plantations and the tea factories the smell is amazing. In every village there is a “kijueni” – resting place on the main road where the men gather to hang out and chat, while women meet each other inside houses and in back gardens. As we drove past I saw a kijueni underneath a large shady shrub of Solanum thomsonii, the species endemic to the Southern Highlands.

 

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Flowers of quinine, Cinchona grandis, growing in a quinine plantation.

 

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Eric and Frank at the back of the car on the bumpy road.

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Frank’s family who searched for Solanum in the West Usambara forest near their village. Frank is in the green shirt.

 

Frank phoned his family and asked them to search for Solanum around their home village in the West Usambaras before we arrived. Collecting was fast and successful once we knew where the plants were. In Frank’s village people speak the Shambaa language. When a boy becomes an adult up he builds his own house from wood and clay soil. Many people work on the local tea plantations. Tea plants in some plantations are 70 years old! Coffee was also grown here a few years ago, but after coffee prices fell they stopped growing it and that land is now bare. Making a profit from agriculture is difficult even when you have good land like here. People say that 20 years ago it was easier to make a living because the rains were predictable and people planted the crops at the right time; now it is impossible to predict when the rains will come so people are less willing to invest in agriculture.

 

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