Japan's Ambassador to Namibia, Hisao Nishimaki, says he is impressed with the strides made by horticulture producers in the Kavango West Region. Japan has provided N$2 million to be used for horticulture-related training and equipment in the region.
The Ambassador's visit included a stopover with the Governor of the region as well as with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. They visited a number of small-scale projects where they assessed progress made since Nishimaki's first visit last year.
Apart from engaging with the farmers, Nishimaki also handed over farming implements and seeds to further assist the horticulture producers. 33-year-old Marthin Ihemba is unemployed and has been tending and living off his garden called Klein Musese since 2012. The visit by the delegation therefore allowed him to sell some of his fresh produce. Kamakali Farmers' Association is another beneficiary, made up of five men and 10 women. They started the garden in 2014 from scratch, and their hard work paid off when their endeavour caught the attention of sponsors who assisted them with the equipment they needed.
Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture also provided the group with training aimed at improving not only the soil's structure but also its fertility. The chairperson of the Kamakali Farmers' Association, Johannes Mukoso, says the garden has changed their members' lives for the better. The Japanese Ambassador is therefore impressed with the state of the gardens and the overall progress so far.
"Last year when I visited here, there was empty wasteland and nobody was there, but after one year, he started farming, funded by us, and he has been trained as a farmer, and I am so happy to see that. The second farmer started farming by himself, but he was not successful. After that, he got assistance from us, and now he is getting a lot of money."
Despite the words of praise, farmers in the region are still faced with a particular hurdle.
"Farmers are still concerned about the marketing. They talk of the main buyer being the street vendor, and the street vendor is not someone you have a contract with; they buy only if they have a need. But we are trying. AMTA is coming on board; where we are now, they bought their tomatoes and sweet potatoes," explained Zepee Havarua, the Chief Agricultural Scientific Officer at the Agriculture Ministry.
Regional Governor Bonifatius Wakudumo is convinced that with the right support, the region can become a game changer when it comes to food security.
"With financial support, with equipment, with quality seeds, and with training, if we all can come together, we can manage. The problem is that people want to get involved in horticulture production, but you must understand that it's a technical field. You don't just grow vegetables; there are processes, and they need support through those."