Three interns from institutions of higher education in the country have volunteered to assist the Maari from the Land Garden Project in Windhoek by testing the soil to determine how much gardeners can get from their produce.
“During soil sampling, we are testing the soil for its texture, pH, and all the nutrients that are present, as well as all the minerals in the soil. This is important for your plant and harvest yield because it determines how much you are going to get from your garden,” said Mamamia Kaudimomunhu, an intern and Environmental Biology student from Unam.
She said crop producers should find out whether their soils are too toxic or if there are minimal minerals; they need to strike a balance to get the best results out of the harvest.
“To those who can’t afford to have their soils tested, there are signs the soil is not well balanced. It depends on which minerals are lacking – like potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus on your soil. Different plants have a different way of showing what mineral or nutrient is lacking.
Some plants could have yellow leaves, which show there is already a nutrient lacking in the soil; others wield and some just don’t sprout at all. These are some of the ways which show your soil is lacking important elements,” informed Kaudimomunhu.
She further said the only natural and cost effecting way crop farmers can rehabilitate their soil is to add nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which can be found in compost created from banana peels, coffee grounds, grass cuttings, paper as well as human urine.
The project (Maari from the Land Garden), which is under the ministry of gender and is currently coordinated by Alfons Koruhama, aims to support women with vulnerable children who receive grants or assistance from the ministry.
“The idea of the garden was for the mothers of these children to work there and generate income and food for themselves. We usually grow spinach, lettuce, celery, cabbage and green peppers, and will be planting beetroots and onions soon,” he said.
He said running such projects is a challenge and because of Covid-19, there have been delays, hampering the sale of their products and later led them to have a lot of wasted produce. Major issues are crop-related, soil, moisture, pest and environmental management and ultimately the sale of these products.
“We usually sell to restaurants and markets but of late, we have been having a lot of waste but the good thing now is that at least the waste vegetables can now be turned into the compost because when they are overgrown, they are not fit for human consumption, especially when they start shooting up flowers,” mentioned Koruhama.
He said: “We started having our compost here from the waste. So, hopefully, by September, we will start selling compost.”
The garden uses three systems at the site to grow its produce: the ground way where they usually plant more root vegetables like onions.
“The challenge is the
hydroponics system; funds for buying the black plastics are needs … so we need funds to purchase plastics to replace the old one and because we have interns, they also need a little bit of reward – and that is needed to get the best products out of our garden so that we can be self-sustainable in the long run,” mentioned Koruhama.
Deputy ICT minister Emma Theofelus recently visited the project to find out where the respective ministry can be used for conceptualisation, design, development, evaluation and application to improve production and increase market access.