NAB garden project benefits 6 000 learners

14 May 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

A school garden project funded by the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) will benefit about 6 000 learners who are currently supported by the school feeding maize blend.

According to the NAB, an amount of N$1.1 million was approved by its board toward the project for the 2020/2021 financial year.

The project aims to support at least one school garden in each of the 14 regions of the country.

The NAB said the main objective of the initiative is to advocate for practical teaching and learning as well as to inculcate the culture of crop farming in school learners as future farmers.

“In addition, the project seeks to further supplement the soup kitchen and school feeding maize blend with fresh produce from the gardens to minimise malnutrition disorders among school learners in Namibia.”

According to the NAB, the project’s implementation officially commenced on 23 March and is anticipated to be completed by the middle of this month.

Currently, 10 school gardens have been completed, while the remaining four are in progress.

Selection criteria

The NAB will only fund the initial capital requirements of the project; afterwards, the beneficiaries will be expected to sustain their gardens by selling surplus produce to the surrounding communities.

To ensure inclusivity and a fair selection process of the 14 schools funded by the project, the NAB requested the education ministry - as the main custodian of schools - to nominate at least three potential schools to be assessed per region in line with NAB’s nomination guidelines.

A total of 42 schools were nominated for assessment. The selection criteria mainly focused on schools with the most vulnerable children in the region, schools that have agriculture as a subject with an existing and active school garden as well as agriculture teachers who are most passionate about gardening amongst other criteria.

The NAB said depending on the unique gardening needs identified during the field assessment period, the project will mainly equip the gardens with 200 square meter greenhouses, automated and timed drip irrigation systems, water tanks and stands, tools, seedling stands and production inputs such as planting materials, organic fertilisers and organic pesticides.

The project package also includes on-site practical training for learners and teachers involved in the garden activities, first planting service, and continuous virtual mentorship services for a period not less than three months until the schools attain their first harvest.

The NAB and the ministry will be conducting monitoring and evaluations at three-month intervals to ensure technical inefficiencies are corrected promptly and that non-performing gardens receive technical support on time.

“This project is one of many initiatives driven by the NAB in working towards increased food production and national food security in our country,” the NAB said.

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