Three years after settlement farmers in #Gabis near Karasburg experienced massive livestock losses due to drought, fortunes are turning, thanks to community gardening growing lucerne.
The farmers in the area told the Namibian that they no longer worry about fodder for animals during dry seasons.
Martin Bezuidenhout , one of the founding members of the project said a bright idea sprouted in 2013 when the country experienced its worst drought in 30 years.
“It was one of the most difficult years, but it inspired us to prepare for recurrent droughts to avoid livestock losses during dry seasons,” said Bezuidenhout.
Besides lucerne, the group also grows a variety of vegetables like onions, carrots, pumpkins and beetroot on a piece of land allocated to them by the Bondelswarts Traditional Authority.
The idea to cultivate a variety of vegetables was aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle among the community.
The group had also approached the Karasburg East constituency office to request financial assistance.
“At first, they were reluctant to assist us because similar initiatives in the region had previously failed. We had to convince them that we aimed to have a project to sustain the future generation when we are gone,” Bezuidenhout said.
He explained that instead of sitting around waiting for handouts, the group bought seeds from their resources, and started digging a well to source water for their envisaged community garden.
The group eventually persuaded the constituency office to assist them with fencing materials, water storage tanks, a solar pump and with the drilling of a borehole.
“We had even gone to the extent of calling in a nearby commercial farmer who assisted us to construct the beds for lucerne to explain to the government officials the viability of growing lucerne in the area,” he added.
One of the biggest challenges the project faces is the lack of a cultivator, and a lucerne pressing machine.
Currently, the group relies on a home-made cultivator and lucerne pressing machine, which was built by project member Ben Ortman to plough their land for cultivation.
Ortman said although the home-made gardening implements are not perfect, they are performing a similar function as those sold in gardening shops.
“It is a tough job to plough with your own hands, but this will not discourage us,” said another founding member, Moses Swartbooi.