Well-known for its small livestock farming, the //Kharas Region is probably the last region you expect to find maize, but one gardener wants to change that.
From the remote Twavisis, about 40 kilometres north of Keetmanshoop, Willem Rooi, 56, says he has been experimenting with several vegetables in his small garden in his yard, and the results so far look promising. He indicates that he has successfully planted and harvested tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots and other vegetables in his backyard garden over the years, and this year he decided to try out his luck with planting maize. To his surprise it has grown very well, despite planting it only this January.
Whatever Rooi plants in his garden is like an experiment, as he does not know how the crop will react to the soil or weather in his area, but he is happy that most of what he has tried over the years has worked.
“This is just another chance I took this year – people grow this in the north, so I decided to try it here as well, and it is growing fine as you can see,” he delights. He has always been interested in crops, and farming in general, and has learned more on plant husbandry through reading and listening to the radio. Currently, most of the produce from his garden is for domestic consumption, for his family and neighbours, but he aims to expand his garden and hopefully produce more that he can sell to locals in surrounding areas.
“This is just for the house and I sometimes give some to my neighbours when I harvest more. We have not sold so far, but if we expand the garden we can start selling to get an income,” he adds, showing off some sweet potatoes.
Rooi is optimistic of making the garden bigger, saying he does not need much, as land and water are already available, and only pests can hinder his plans to grow more crops, but he is ready to deal with such problems.