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Namibia gripped by Small-Scale Gardening frenzy

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Emerita Iipinge, from Uukwangula village (about three kilometres west of Oshakati) in Oshana region, is one of the many people in northern Namibian who have set up such gardens at their homesteads.

The setting-up of small backyard gardens seems to have inspired many people in Namibia, especially in rural areas.

It is widely believed that such gardens will contribute to food security, much needed nutrition as well as help the rural poor make an income from selling surplus produce.

When Namibian Farmer visited her recently, Iipinge was watering her garden of well-grown spinach.

She said she decided to set up the garden to generate income by selling surplus produce and also contribute to government efforts to achieve food security in the country.

Iipinge said she started the garden in May this year and has already sold spinach which she said sells fast.

She said most of her customers are her colleagues at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform at Oshakati.

“When I take some spinach to work, that spinach will have been booked already,” she added.

Apart from spinach, Iipinge also grows tomatoes and will soon grow green pepper and beetroot. She encouraged people to set up small gardens at their homes as they can make a good income from vegetables.

“It is good business. You can also use the garden to teach your children how to grow vegetables so that when they grow up you have taught them the ropes and they can start their gardens,” she said.

Iipinge said the only challenge she is facing in running her garden are diseases which sometimes attack vegetables, the lack of drip irrigation and shade nets.

She waters the garden using a hose which is time-consuming and also uses a lot of water.

“I need drip irrigation and shade nets. I also need seeds for vegetables and to fence the garden off so that I can improve production,” she said.

The Namibian government, the African Union and the African Development Bank have called for increased agricultural production in the continent to achieve food security and for job creation. In March this year, an Ongwediva couple – Farrokh and Nahid Hosaini, urged Namibians living in rural areas to set-up small gardens to contribute to food security and to generate income. The couple also called on the government to allow people living along the national water canals to use some of it for gardening.

The couple said agriculture should be taught at schools.

They do not have a conventional garden at their Ongwediva house but have potted vegetables and different fruits trees which they say have served a purpose as many people come to them to buy them.

They also grow parsley, chives, basilicom, mint tree, granadilla, the fig tree and Hoodia.

The Gobabeb Research and Training Centre, located in the Namib Desert in Erongo region, has also set-up a small-scale garden to encourage the growing of vegetables in the arid environment.

They grow kale, spinach, chillies, beans and according to the caretaker, Hendrik Adam, the vegetables are for domestic consumption although some are sold to the local Topnaar communities.

The Abidjan-based African Development Bank has called for the promotion of agriculture in Africa as this would not only contribute to food security in the continent but also create jobs.

The bank’s president, Akinwumi Adessina, said agriculture in Africa should not be a way of life but should be a business which should work for both the small and the bigger farmer.

Through the African Union, the continent has established the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (Caadp), to help African countries eliminate hunger and reduce poverty through agriculture-led development. African governments agreed to allocate at least 10% of national budges to agriculture and rural development and to achieve agricultural growth of at least 6% annually.