17 May 2016 16:00pm
DORDABIS SMALL-SCALE FARMERS DREAM BIG
(NAMPA FEATURES SERVICE)
By Francois Lottering
DORDABIS, 17 MAY (NAMPA) - Standing in the shade of her greenhouse, the lush green leaves at her feet tell the story of determination and commitment.
It is because of hunger that we started the vegetable garden, says Veronika Gomxos, 30, standing amongst sprouting carrots, onions, green peppers, tomatoes and spinach.
She is adamant that with hard work and good management, she can provide food to many residents from this 160 square metre vegetable patch.
The greenhouse, constructed from scrap iron poles, fence and torn shade netting, is situated at Dordabis, a village some 90 kilometres east of Windhoek, populated by about 1 500 people.
Apart from a few guest and hunting farms around Dordabis, there is a school, clinic, police station, small store and fuel station that belongs to one of the farmers. There is a post office too, where the elderly collect their monthly pension.
Although Dordabis is situated on the two main routes to other rural and farming towns like Uhlenhorst, Blumfelde and Leonardville, not many people stop here.
Poverty is rife as many people here do not have permanent employment. Only a handful are employed at the few Government institutions, while a few, like Gomxos, do small-scale agriculture.
She has been doing this for more than 10 years.
Despite efforts to get other young people involved in agriculture, many opt to drink and involve themselves in immoral activities, anything else but work, she tells this agency while instructing two of her helpers, Bertus Bock and Zelda Bock (not related).
We want to serve our community - those on anti-retroviral (ARV) medication and the many orphans and the elderly to not go hungry, an emotional Gomxos says.
Tears wells up in her eyes as she narrates how she and her helpers did not have decent food to eat for the past two days, hence her determination to make this garden work for herself, her co-workers and community so that hunger becomes something of the past for good.
I see this as a long-term project, and I want my child to also be part of this garden one day, she says confidently.
Her clients include the few Government institutions here, while some of her vegetables are sold by street vendors in Windhoek. Even this market is difficult to access due to the transport problems.
Bertus explains that the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, as well as the Khomas Regional Council, donated a solar water pump system to them.
This makes watering the garden much easier.
They are however in need of gardening equipment like rakes and shovels to replace the old equipment they currently use. Even seeds and environment-friendly pesticides will help increase their production.
Not far from the vegetable garden, maize planted and tended to by former councillor for Windhoek Rural Constituency Frederick Arri, grows.
He turned to small-scale crop farming after obtaining a small piece of communal land in the heart of the village late last year.
Arrie proudly announces that his maize yields twin cobs, making it more efficient for food production.
His face lights up when he looks at some of the twin cobs ready for harvesting, and he and his helpers then discuss when to start harvesting the crops.
He was proud to announce that he responded to the call of President Hage Geingob on food security, telling this reporter that small-scale farming can feed many people.
His maize was planted in two phases and harvesting takes place in two phases, ensuring continued food supply. Apart from the maize, he also farms with cabbage, spinach and tomatoes.
Arrie is full of hope that his about 100 square metres of maize can alleviate hunger and provide an income.
We do not want to be seen as beggars by others, but if we are going to start like I did here, then at the end of the day we are assured of food here at Dordabis, he says.
On the water issue, Arrie says the solar panels are of great help as it saves on diesel costs, but in case of no or little sunshine, the pumps can operate with diesel.
He adds that if a person is serious about farming and food production, they will find a solution to the problem and solve it.
This is the beginning and I will take part of these crops and give it to the elderly people here and the local school, Arrie says.
Children here only get porridge to eat at school, and vegetables from his garden can supplement their diet, he explains.