Horticulture the way to go

30 October 2019 | Local News

A pensioner from Bagani village in the Kavango East Region has called on people living along the Okavango River to make use of the river water and venture into horticulture.

In an interview with Ewi lyaNooli at his one-hectare farm, which lies about 10 metres from the bank of the Okavango River, Haimbili Max (60) shared how he started with the project and how it has helped him to feed his family.

Bagani village is about 210 km east of Rundu.

Max is a former agriculturist who had worked for about 20 years at the Shadikongoro irrigation farm.

He produces cabbages, onions, tomatoes, butternuts, sweet potatoes, watermelons, maize and pumpkins on his farm.

He says his business is thriving because there are no supermarkets with fresh produce in the area, therefore the tourist lodges and community members rely on small-scale farmers.

There are a number of accommodation establishments in and around Divundu, which is about 10 kilometres from Bagani.

Max says he resigned from the Shadikongoro irrigation scheme in 2009 and in 2012 he secured the one-hectare plot from the Hambukushu Traditional Authority.

“When I resigned in 2009 life was not easy for me and I applied for a piece of land, which I was allocated. With the vast knowledge I have of agriculture, it was easy to set up a gardening project,” Max says.

With limited funds, it was difficult to buy the necessary water pump, water tank and farming implements.

But with patience and hard work he managed to acquire the needed equipment and his project started yielding the positive results he had envisioned.

Max says the money he generates from selling his produce is used to cater for the needs of his family and to upgrade the project.

“I use the money to help my children pay their school fees, buy them clothes and food to eat. Apart from the mahangu we harvest in our fields, the proceeds from this garden are what addresses my family's needs,” he says.

Asked about the effects of the current drought, Max said he was able to invest more time in the garden project, which led to a larger harvest and more income.

“As we all know, for the past two years the drought has affected many households, which means there was no food to eat for many. However, for some of us who have gardens, the drought served as motivation to work harder in the garden because it is the only way you will make money to buy maize meal and other basic necessities,” he explains.

Max used the opportunity to call on other people with access to land on the banks of the Okavango River to invest in vegetable farming.

He says people should not just sit and wait for the government's drought relief handouts.

Max says people in the Kavango East Region are blessed with fertile soil and a perennial river, which they should take advantage of.

“We have the Okavango River and the region is blessed with fertile soil; why wait on the drought relief? It must supplement what you have already. It is really a disappointment to see fellow farmers not doing horticulture. It is not the government's responsibility to cater for all your needs, sometimes you have to help yourself,” he says.

Over the years some community members have approached Max for horticulture training, which he helped them with.

According to Max the main challenge in horticulture is the cost of equipment, fuel for the water pump and pesticides. He would like to acquire a small tractor to help him cultivate his fields.



KENYA KAMBOWE

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