Youth to revive gardening in Okombahe

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Paulus Shiku
Okombahe

Five young people plan to revive a vegetable garden which withered away about seven years ago at Okombahe settlement in the Erongo Region.
The group recently received a loan to acquire equipment to start a garden. The N$100 000 loan is from the Namibia Youth Credit Scheme under the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture. The scheme is a youth empowerment programme for young people between the ages 18 to 35. The two young women and three men now make up the ‘Daures Gardening and Poultry Project’, which will later be registered as a cooperative.
Revealing their story to Nampa, project chairperson Charlina Baba Xawes said work will start the minute the equipment is delivered. The equipment include water pipes, an electric water pump and garden tools such as rakes, forks and spades.
The group plan to cultivate a five-hectare plot within a 20-hectare fenced area, which was previously a vegetable garden run by the Okombahe Gardeners Cooperative, which stopped operating around 2010. For now they just need to clear a few shrubs, loosen the soil and set up the irrigation system. The area already has a storeroom and water pipes connected to a borehole.
“We are ready to start anytime; the sooner the better, because once it works we can then start with the poultry phase,” Xawes said.
Another member of the group, Rodney /Uirab, said they will grow pumpkins, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and maize. “We will sell to schools and the clinic here, but we will also take our produce to Omaruru and Uis. The market is ready, they assured us they will buy, we must just supply,” /Uirab said.
The group received training on business management over five days last month, after which they submitted their gardening business proposals and quotations for equipment. Apart from this garden, there are more than three abandoned vegetable gardens around Okombahe which if revived could change the local economy.
For now there is no vegetable garden in Okombahe after cooperatives and individuals gave up on the gardens in 2010 not long after they were established.
/Uirab was one of those who owned a private garden but stopped in 2014, because there was no profit.
Michael Hansen, who previously planted on the plot which will now be used by /Uirab’s group, told Nampa that his group halted production in 2010 because of a lack of water. Hansen explained that the borehole which draws water from the nearby Omaruru River aquifer was depleted due to drought.
“Lack of water is the reason why the rest of the gardeners abandoned their plots but now that the aquifer has water, our equipment is old and damaged.”
He said Rössing Foundation provided them with the irrigation system, gardening equipment and fence materials for the previous project. – Nampa

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