Red Cross launch community farm in Gweta
After 16 months of tireless ploughing and cultivating, The Botswana Red Cross Society (BRCS) officially launched their Horticultural Farm in Gweta last Thursday.
Constructed to the tune of P3.6 million, the farm stretches for 9 hectares, although currently only a single hectare has been cultivated.
The initiative is the second part of BRCS’ Food Security and Livelihood programme, sparked into life in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the programme, which received financial backing from the Japanese government, began with BRCS delivering food relief to 350 families in the Kgalagadi.
Each family received monthly packages worth P750 every month for six months.
Taking the drive to the next level in June 2021, BRCS then grouped together 50 subsistence farmers in Gweta to set-up a Community Horticultural Farm.
As well as being given land to farm, after the plot was cleared, the farmers were provided with infrastructure, including: electric fence, borehole, and a 100, 000 litre water tank.
While the project is still at an early stage, in May the farm produced 1.5 tonnes of vegetables, selling to supermarkets like Choppies and Saverite.
Individuals are also able to buy from the farm, which currently produces: cabbages, spinach, rape, beetroot, tomatoes and green pepper, at discounted prices.
In his keynote address, the Director of Crop Production from the Ministry of Agriculture, Diirilwe Matoto noted the initiative is perfectly placed to take advantage of government’s ban on importing vegetables.
“Food production is a cornerstone for every economy and as government we are committed to the development of farming in general, horticultural production in particular since it is through such endeavors that we can attain food security,” stated Matoto, who urged the Gweta community to make the most of their proximity to the farm.
For his part, BRCS General Secretary, Kutlwano Mukokomani explained the identified Gweta as the scheme’s starting-point as it is a disaster-prone area vulnerable to drought and extreme weather conditions.
“The project includes a fully equipped borehole, irrigation system, farming inputs and technical support from a full-time horticulture specialist. We are adamant that the farm will assist the local communities in Gweta and surrounding areas address food challenges,” Mukokomani said.
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the Japanese Embassy, Sayuti Himeno pledged her country’s unwavering support towards improving Botswana’s agricultural environment and economic recovery.
“I sincerely hope that this farm will continue to serve as a symbol of the friendship and corporation between Japan and Botswana in the region,” declared Himeno.