Swakopmund residents aim to strengthen food security

Sharlien Tjambari

The Community Skills Development Foundation (COSDEF) Agricultural Project was launched last week Friday, 5 November. The project aims to promote agriculture, strengthen food security, and stimulate economic growth in Swakopmund through the establishment of an agricultural training and production centre.

The COSDEF Agricultural Project which is situated at the Community Skills Development Centre in Mondesa, is a joint initiative between COSDEF and the Australian Charity, Towards a Better World (TABW). As a non-profit community initiative, all proceeds from the sale of the products are invested back into the community through provision of training, job creation and community development with the aim of improving food security and livelihoods.
The COSDEF Business Development and Marketing Manager Koesha Martin said: “With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, our attention was drawn to how we can assist the local community to address the threat to food security by providing the skills and materials required to produce more locally grown food.”
Martin further said, “with COVID-19 changing people’s livelihoods, income and in general influencing the way we have to think and move for-ward, this was the perfect time for us to consider how to incorporate food security with our strategy for sustainable community development.”
The Rotary Club in Swakopmund donated N$50 000 towards the project. Due to the harsh desert conditions in Swakopmund that are not conducive to vegetable production, a key feature of the COSDEF Agricultural project is the compost production facility which ensures a reliable supply of quality compost and organic fertilisers is available for beneficiaries and the wider community. Food waste is allegedly collected from restaurants/cafes and horse manure from the local stables, which is then turned into compost in around 3 weeks by utilising the Berkeley method. A worm farm has also been set up to produce vermi-compost.
According to Jeremy Müller, COSDEF’s Executive Manager, to increase local capacity for home food production and urban farming, a demonstration/training garden has been established including construction of a hothouse and large greenhouse. Müller said: “A range of skill development programs and workshops will be offered to the community to enable beneficiaries to come together and learn about gardening in the desert.”
Müller further said: “The first of our 6-month training programs commenced in August 2021 whereby 13 beneficiaries were selected to learn about all aspects of vegetable production. Each beneficiary was allocated a 14m2 plot of land at the Centre which they can utilise for crop production during this time.” This will allegedly enable the beneficiaries to provide for their own families and to also sell any excess to increase the family household income. During the program, beneficiaries also receive assistance to set up vegetable gardens at their home to ensure they continue to produce their own food long after the training program has finished. The centre has capacity to increase the number of beneficiaries to a total of 50 every 6 months in the near future, said Müller.

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