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On the Line: A Timeline link between Cambridge and Mali
OnionField-Small30.JPG (58326 bytes) Historically the Dogons are agriculturalists who farmed at a subsistence level. During the latter decades of the 1900s,  severe droughts led them to look for ways to survive the dry season.   Now, the Dogon villagers grow many vegetable crops for market. 

Onions are the major market crop. These are a small onion known as échalotes, introduced to the area by the French around the time of the First World War. 

They're grown in fields built using stone cells (about a metre square) to retain soil and moisture. The stones also provide walkways. At Wédié, the onion crop is watered by hand after the end of the rainy season, using water from the village dam.

Incredibly this field is constructed by hand, built on bare rock with about 15cm of soil in each cell. The soil is carefully collected from thin deposits in the surrounding area and home-made compost is added. The onion leaves give the crop field a characteristic blue colour.

The Dogons are experts in exploiting their land to its maximum potential. This field can produce a crop of maize and two crops of onions each year. The income is used to buy in extra millet (the staple food crop) to see them through the dry season.

On the Line Intro Page

Latest update 10/04/00