Okahandja — Organic gardening and the need to become food secure is fast becoming a priority for Namibians from all walks of life.
This became very evident during a course on using basic compost techniques, earthworms and effective micro-organisms to improve soil and plant health at Okahandja hosted by the Namibian Organic Association (NOA).
Course facilitator Manjo Krige expressed surprise at the intense interest from participants from far and near. Small-scale crop farmers, as well as representatives of the commercial crop industry, arrived from virtually all corners of Namibia to attend the one-day workshop.
Wessels Afrikaner from the Khomas Region described the course as interesting, practical, short and to the point: "What I did not understand on composting during the theoretical part, I grasped through the practical session." Tjikune Donald from Omaheke said it was an awesome experience. He attended with his very excited mother, Angelika, and said afterwards that it was an enlightening feeling to be able to produce one's own food in one's own backyard.
They are already planning to employ a few people and start their own organic gardening operation. Tjikune feels the informative course needs to go national to show people what can be achieved with the right soil and organic techniques.
Julianna Bernardo from the north of the country said it was a big experience. "I learned about the overall health of organic veggies, the importance of protecting our environment and natural habitats," she said.
Frank Bockmühl, who owns a worm farm, said he had started before with compost-making, but only realised during the course that he made quite a few "category 1" mistakes.
"My compost was predominantly based on cattle manure, with only the smaller portion being dry material (grass and garden cuttings).
Then I, in order to prevent evaporation, covered my compost with plastic. I immediately removed this on Sunday and separated the compost, which is now covered with lots of dry grass. In future I will plan my compost well ahead, collecting suitable material as from now onwards."
Regarding his worm farm, Bockmühl is certain that he is on the right track, as the worms are fat and healthy.
Tjavanga Toromba from Otjizondjupa described it as a wonderful day. "The information was overwhelming and we have adopted from the course the method of anaerobic fertiliser formulation on a larger scale to be able satisfy the size of our current gardens and plantations," he said.
Nazeem Hepute from Otjizondjupa said he learned a lot about the overall health of organic veggies, as well as the importance of protecting the environment and natural habitats.