Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources undertake follow-up visit to Fransfontein Community Garden, Kunene Region

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The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR) is implementing the Green Climate Fund (GCF) funded project titled SAP001: “Improving Rangeland and Ecosystem Management Practices of Smallholder Farmers Under Conditions of Climate Change in Sesfontein, Fransfontein, and Warmquelle Areas (IREMA Kunene Project). The project aims to contribute to the reduction of the vulnerability of smallholder farmers under climate change conditions, by safeguarding natural capital that generate ecosystem services, to sustain agricultural production systems. 

The parliamentary standing committee on Natural Resources visited the Kunene Region in August 2022 to familiarize themselves with GCF-funded projects’ activities being implemented by the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF). The tour aimed at assessing the impact of climate change, and inspect progress made as far as the IREMA Project activities/interventions are concerned. Farmers in the Kunene Region have endured a prolonged drought which resulted in heavy livestock losses and made crop production a mammoth challenge to face. 

In addressing climate driven vulnerabilities, the IREMA Project has taken initiative to come up with innovative measures, such as retrofitting waterpoints with solar systems to ensure adequate supply of potable water, rehabilitating community gardens in Sesfontein and Fransfontein, distributing drought-tolerant seeds to smallholder farmers to boost backyard gardening, and distributing fuel-efficient (3-in-1) stoves to the local farmers to minimize pressure from limited forest resources in the region. 

The Fransfontein Community Garden, funded at a tune of N$ 12.3 million, is one of the capital interventions that was re-visited by the standing committee on the 07th December 2022. During the first visit, the Community Garden was still at infant stage specifically on the production and governance structure establishment. As a result, the standing committee members committed for a follow up visit to witness the first bumper harvest. The follow up visit took place on the 07th December 2022. 

The visit commenced with a courtesy visit to Ms. Magrietha Haradoes, a local farmer and beneficiary of the IREMA Project’s Small Stock Revolving Scheme (SSRS). The beneficiary received 20 ewes and 1 ram from the project in November 2020. At present, she boasts 47 goats (double the figure) and have already revolved 5 ewes through the revolving scheme. “I have achieved this through dedication, hard work and commitment, as I herd the goats by myself”, said Ms. Haradoes. She challenges fellow beneficiaries to take good care of their goats, to ensure that this revolving intervention benefits many vulnerable farmers/households in the Kunene Region. Standing Committee Member Hon. Maria Kamutali, expressed appreciation to the beneficiary, imploring her to continue working hard and setting a good example which other beneficiaries should emulate. 

The Standing Committee then proceeded to the Fransfontein Community Garden to witness the bumper harvest. Representing the Governor of Kunene Region, Hon. Johannes Antsino applauded the garden establishment, alluding that the intervention is timely as it answers questions and addresses challenges which government alone cannot attend to. “Agriculture is close to our hearts and there is no doubt that the Fransfontein Community Garden will enhance food security in the settlement, and has the potential to generate substantial income for the community. He further stressed that the more we consume products from other countries, the more jobs we are creating for them. Hence, such a community project is worth emulating in other areas of the Kunene Region and Namibia at large, he concluded. 

Representing the EIF was Ms. Aina-Maria Iteta – the Executive Business Strategy, who applauded all the stakeholders (MAWLR, political regional authority, and traditional authority, etc.) for the continuous support provided to the community garden. She urged law and policy makers to come up with policies and strategies that would assist local farmers to offset their products through local markets. 

Hon. Tjekero Tweya, Chairperson of the Standing Committee is delighted to see the green garden under full horticulture production. He urged the garden management committee, beneficiaries and all involved stakeholders to work hard to ensure that the garden remains productive to continue serving the Fransfontein settlement and surrounding areas. He further advised for an exit strategy and good governance to ensure the sustainability of the community garden beyond the project.