In an effort to relieve the Gweta community of the effects of Covid-19, Botswana Red Cross Society, Japanese government and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have partnered to develop a community farm to the tune of P3.5 million.
The partnership, has put together 60 subsistence farmers in Gweta to establish a community horticultural farm which has been fenced, has a borehole, solar power and water reservoir.
The project came about on the backdrop of a proposal made by the International Federation of Red Cross to the Government of Japan in August 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic negatively affected nutrition, income security and food security.
In addition, through the partnership, the Japanese government and IFRC partnered to deliver food relief to 350 families in Kgalagadi and each family received food worth P750 a month, for five months.
Botswana Red Cross Secretary General Kutlwano Mukokomani has explained that the farm will assist the community in Gweta and also assist the surrounding villages achieve food security.
The farm currently produces 1.5 tonnes of vegetables monthly, supplying local supermarkets and nearby villages and in Maun. The farm sits on a nine-hectare land has absorbed 50 farmers to capacitate them on horticulture and agri businesses.
Speaking at the launch of the project, Mukokomani explained that the project is a testimony to the efforts to help government by providing services to the most vulnerable members of the community.
For her part, the Japan Embassy Second Secretary Sayuri Himeno, highlighted the project will remain sustainable and thrive for years to come. She said that the project is providing food assistance, capacity development and horticultural equipment and training in the Kgalagadi and Central (Nata/Gweta) Districts.
According to Himeno, this is in line with the commitment made by Japan during the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7), to contribute to the establishment of a resilient and sustainable society in Africa.
‘The significance of supporting the agricultural sector has never been more important as we move forward to the post Covid-19 era and the government of Japan intends to offer as much support as possible towards the improvement of Botswana’s agricultural equipment and economic recovery,’ she revealed.
Department of Crop Production Director, Diirilwe Matoto said that the initiative came at the right time when government has taken a decision to close the importation gap for Agricultural commodities by restricting importation of horticultural crops.
He stated that this creates an opportunity for local horticultural producers like Gweta community farm as the sub sector contributes only 40% of the national demand and 60% is met by importation. Matoto noted that the food production is a cornerstone for every economy.