Botswana: Herb Farming Pays Bills - Seoromeng

Gaborone — Arriving at the Seoromeng's homestead in Block 3 Gaborone, one is greeted by the rich cocktail aroma of herbs, emanating from the backyard garden.

So dominant is the scent of mint and basil and such are the efforts of 24-year-old, Ms Tshireletso Seoromeng, an urban farmer whose company Eba Farms produces culinary herbs such as mint, basil, parsley, coriander, rocket and dill.

Since the family does not use spices to flavour their food, Ms Seoromeng's desire to grow herbs was born when surfing the internet, trying to find ways to spice up her recipes.

With no knowledge on farming and little starting capital, Ms Seoromeng was prepared to learn.

"After graduating from Botswana Accountancy College, I needed to do something new, fresh and that is why I dived into herbs.

I say 'dived in' because I had no knowledge on cultivating herbs and the few farmers I came across were not willing to share information.

I learnt the hard way, making mistakes and learning from them" she said.

"But with technology, the internet makes learning a new skill easy because information is at your fingertips," Ms Seoromeng said.

Although a lucrative venture, she said planting herbs was capital intensive and high risk with no shortcuts.

"One has to invest in a greenhouse structure, cold storage, enough clean water and a pack house," stated Ms Seoromeng.

She said clean water was one of the main challenges since getting financial aid to drill a borehole was not easy, mainly because most of the financial institutions used boreholes as collateral to fund farmers.

Ms Seoromeng said the demand for herbs was high, but only a few suppliers, adding that she supplied Food Lovers' Market, local restaurants, catering companies and mobile bars.

Although challenging, Ms Seoromeng said farming was fulfilling and it delighted her to have created employment for others whom she had also trained.

"This is not just farming. This is what pays my bills and I am saving to construct a greenhouse and drill a borehole," Ms Seoromeng said.

She happily announced that her first produce was promising as she managed to harvest and have it packed on time.

"Being a vegetable farmer today is not easy.

The market is extremely competitive and as a farmer you have to be innovative to ensure your business is sustainable.

My goal is to add value to the food industry and contribute to such initiatives as female empowerment," Ms Seoromeng said.

Source : BOPA

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