WHAT ARE WE DOING?
Our Namibia Market Gardens for Growth and Sustainability Program seeks to improve the opportunities for farmers to diversify their cropping options.
Agri Connexions works with resource-poor farmers to increase food security and strengthen livelihoods in the drought prone Zambezi Region in northeast Namibia. ACA works with farmers to augment their seasonal, dryland cropping of grain staples with vegetable production that takes place year round. This is achieved by facilitating the transfer of skills and procurement of equipment in a self-sustaining way.
Improve access to water efficient irrigation technologies.
- For a small-scale food producer, an irrigated garden or farm means the opportunity to cultivate a larger area, increase the number of growing seasons, use limited water resources more efficiently and improve the quality of crops.
Promote sustainable agriculture practices (compost production,
crop rotation, natural pest management) with training and
- There are few sustainable horticulture training resources available to food producers who aim to improve their production.
- Our aim is to collaborate with sustainable agriculture expertise in Namibia and beyond to provide farmer-centered and participatory on-farm training on sustainable agriculture methods that draws on traditional and existing knowledge, while sharing resources and enhancing local capacity.
Develop market links: strengthen the capacity of producers
to supply domestic markets.
- Independence: opportunity to grow and sell crops year round, increased income so farmers can afford food, education and healthcare for their families.
- Economic development: food producers sell vegetable crops in the market place, farmers are self-sustaining (able to buy seeds and reinvest into operations), job creation.
- Food security: increased capacity to withstand droughts and sustain families with food and income, less reliance on food aid.
What We Achieved In 2016
- Training: 32 farmers received intensive training in sustainable vegetable production and pest and disease management.
- Ongoing mentorship: Facilitated a competition with trainees to promote the adoption of new practices.
Water Management and Food Security
- Water-conserving technologies: We assisted our partner, Mashandilo Co-operative, to trial drip irrigation. Due to the improved water efficiency, the members save time collecting water and are investing in expanding this system.
- Water collection: We're connecting our partners with appropriate technologies. Hippo rollers (drums with a metal frame attached to roll) assist to transport water from the water source to the gardens, making production more feasible in water-scarce areas.
- Income generation: Mashandilo Co-operative members are eating from their gardens 3-4 days per week and earning income from selling to neighbors, providing food to over 100 people.
Business Development Assistance
- With our partner SEED (a partnership founded by UN Environment Program and UN Development Program), we facilitated workshops to assist Mashandilo Co-operative to strengthen its business plan to enable the group to develop a feasible and focused strategy to achieve its short and long term goals.
ACA’s capacity to produce and be sustainable in long term
- International Recognition: Partnership between Mashandilo Co-operative and Agri Connexions was the only Namibian recipient of 2016 SEED Africa Award. SEED recognizes and assists innovative business models.
- United Nations Award: Courtney Dehn-Gurbacki, founder of Agri Connexions Africa, is one of 3 finalists for the UN Convention on Climate Change and Desertification Social Media Challenge.
Local partnerships: the Namibia National Farmers Union, National Association of Horticultural Producers, Namibia Organic Association, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation, Pablelo Trust and Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
- Local establishment: Agri Connexions is registered in Namibia, as well as the US, with a Namibian Board of Trustees.
Demand-Driven Partnerships 2017
Based on the experiences and lessons learned from Mashandilo Co-operative, Agri Connexions is developing partnerships with new farmers and communities in Zambezi Region who are strengthening vegetable production to provide food and income for their families.
Our aim is to enable our partners to access improved tools and resources by facilitating training and mentorship in production and business skills development and assisting with urgent start-up equipment needs.
Tendai's group of vegetable producers have come together to tackle common problems like water access. They are developing a joint garden to provide a source of local food for the community to supplement the staple maize (or corn) porridge. Agri Connexions is assisting with training needs and water-efficient irrigation.
Mother’s Support Group on Impalila Island
Women whose lives and families are affected by HIV/AIDS cultivate vegetables to empower themselves and the community with a local source of fresh food. Agri Connexions and IRDNC are assisting with training and mentorship to expand their gardens.
Bwabwata National Park
The Khwe San community in Bwabwata National Park lives in one of the most food-insecure areas of Namibia. Due to high unemployment, limited water availability and poor soils, malnutrition is high. To overcome these challenges, we are working with partners to pilot food production technologies that can provide food for their community.