Making agriculture sexy again

The School Garden Funding Project (SGFP) is an initiative of the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) that will enable 14 schools to manage their own gardens.

15 June 2021 | Agriculture

Mariselle Stofberg

The Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) officially handed over the School Garden Funding Project (SGFP) at Auas Primary School in Windhoek on 9 June.

Auas Primary School is one of 14 schools in all 14 regions that have been chosen to be part of the project.

The SGFP is an initiative by the NAB in collaboration with the ministry of education, arts and culture that strives support school gardens in all 14 regions.

The donation is valued at N$1.1 million and will make it possible to run school gardens in all 14 regions. One school per region has been selected to start their own school garden after a rigorous evaluation process.

Factors taken into consideration for this were: the number of vulnerable children being assisted by the school, access to water and irrigation, schools that have existing gardens and the availability of skilled and passionate agriculture teachers to drive the project.

Making agriculture more attractive

The acting principal of Auas Primary Schooll, Loureen Mutanimije-Nchindo, emphasised that the main aim of agriculture as a subject is to teach learners how to produce food for themselves.

“The subject needs to be better promoted. We need to make it more interesting and sexier, so we attract learners to pursue it. The subject shouldn’t be seen as a punishment for learners who misbehave. It shouldn’t be seen as something just meant for the elderly on the farms and in the villages. If we market it sexier, we will attract our learners to pursue this field which is the backbone of our community,” she said.

The objectives of the SGFP are to advocate for practical teaching and learning, as well as to inculcate the culture of crop farming in school learners, as future crop farmers.

Paulus Nghikembwa, the director of education, arts and culture in the Khomas Region, expressed the directorate’s gratitude for the initiative.

“Providing quality education and making it available to all children is the biggest investment one can make. This is an investment where returns are guaranteed in the form of enlightenment, knowledge creation, creativity and innovation, critical thinking and sustainable future.

“Investment in school gardens not only contributes to a knowledge society, but helps to create and cultivate a sustainable and thriving society.

“Agriculture as a subject requires practical exposure, and school gardens will greatly benefit our learners. To the school management: The ball is now in your court, so keep those gardens alive and thriving,” Nghikembwa added.

The implementation of the project started in December 2020 with the nomination of 42 schools across the country.

Continuous support

“We are not only providing financial support to keep these gardens going, but we will also provide continuous technical support and have various strategies in place to ensure the sustainability of the project,” said Mathe Mulonda, of the horticulture officer at the NAB.

“We will train the teachers how to plant and harvest, because they need to support our learners. We believe mentorship throughout this project is of utmost importance. The contractors who constructed the greenhouses will also provide virtual mentorship to the learners until the first harvest is ready,” Mulonda added.

“Eleven schools’ gardens are completed. Two gardens of schools located in Kavango West and East are 90% finished and one school garden in the Zambezi Region has not yet been started, but we foresee it will be completed within the next two weeks,” Mulonda said.

He added that these gardens have been registered as food producers for their communities, which will enable them to sell produce to local people.

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