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Fransfontein Community Garden, Khorixas Constituency, Kunene Region, 31st October 2022- The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta today officiated at the handover ceremony for the Fransfontein Community garden, energy efficient stoves, goats and rehabilitated boreholes under the “Improving rangeland and ecosystem management practices of smallholder farmers under conditions of climate change in Sesfontein, Fransfontein, and Warmquelle areas of the Republic of Namibia in short known as the IREMA Project. 

In his keynote address Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, stated t “Inevitably, young people account for a large percentage of our population. According to the Trading Economic, global macro models and analyst shows that Namibia Youth Unemployment rate stands at 49. Our youth are faced with many hurdles in trying to earn a living. It is unfortunate that our youth don’t perceive agriculture as a remunerative or prestigious profession. Unless they find meaningful economic opportunities and attractive environments in rural areas, they migrate to cities. This trend does not only contribute to increasing the phenomenon of over-urbanization and unemployment in urban areas, but it also affects the national food production systems. Investing in rural youth is therefore key to enhancing agricultural productivity, boosting rural economies, and ensuring food security”. 

He further denoted by urging the youth of Fransfontein safe guard the investment and take ownership of the opportunity to transform their livelihoods and grab opportunity to proudly safeguard this investment that youth should be re-engaged so that youth can meaningfully transform the participation of youth from subsistence farming to commercial enterprise. 

To date the Environmental Investment Fund through the IREMA project invested more than Twelve Million (N$ 12 million) to upgrade the Fransfontein Community Garden. The project investment has changed the food production landscape in Fransfontein, with a total of 10 community members employed and more than 1700 people as direct and indirect beneficiaries in Fransfontein area. The Fransfontein Community Garden covers an area of 16 hectares and is focused on both horticultural and dryland crop production. The garden has been tremendously upgraded in terms of solar-powered electric fence, water infrastructure which includes construction of a four hundred cubic meters (400m3) reservoir, rehabilitation of two boreholes to augment the fountain, installation of a solar plant, installation of drip irrigation system and an Automated Weather Station. The project further rehabilitated nine (9) boreholes in Fransfontein area at the tune of more than two point four million (N$2.4) which is expected to promote community health and ease access to water for both human and livestock consumption. As such about 1500 people and 10 000 livestock are expected to have access to reliable water supply infrastructure. In addition, community members have established home-based gardens that can greatly improve their livelihoods as well as strengthen household food security. The project has further procured One Thousand and Fifty-Five (1055) goats of which 420 were distributed to 20 vulnerable farmers in 2020, and another 630 goats were handed over to 29 identified farmers in Kunene region on the 31st October 2022. The total cost for this intervention is One Million and Seven Hundred Namibian Dollars (N$1.7 million). The project envisaged a bumper harvest towards the end of November 2022 and financial projections for the garden’s proceedings is estimated to be more than Two Hundred Thousand Namibian Dollar.