Young local food farmer utilizes home garden to enhance household food security and livelihood
Johanna Kwafeinge Benjamin is a young yet ambitious youth who does not shy away from setting herself apart from her peers. Born and raised in Eheke village in the Oshana region, the young agriculturalist is a budding farmer who at a very young age was taught the value of being self-sufficient.
“I was groomed by a family that makes a living out of farming so I became very aware of the necessity of being self-sufficient, especially in terms of food production,” said Johanna.
For this reason, the 25-year-old decided to improve upon the basic farming skills she acquired at home by pursuing a qualification in agriculture at the University of Namibia’s Ogongo Campus.
After graduating, however, job prospects were few for Johanna, which motivated her to venture out into horticulture as a means to support herself and her family.
“After completing my studies I was not fortunate enough to secure a job, so I decided to utilise the skills I acquired and started a garden at home.”
Johanna’s garden is now her main source of income and takes great pride in it as it allows her to earn an income while at the same time providing access to healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables to her customers.
“I am grateful for being able to contribute to food security in the county, especially with healthy and nutritious food,” she beamed.
Despite the challenges involved in starting an agricultural business, Johanna says she understands that food is a need and not a want and has therefore taken up the challenge to farm so people can have access to enough food.
Johanna says most of her customers are community members within her village and surrounding villages and nearby towns.
Amongst the numerous obstacles that Johanna faces as a young food hero, she highlights market access and plant pests and diseases as the most challenging.
“Due to the fact that I’m still operating on a small scale, my biggest threat is commercial producers who produce on a much larger scale than I do.”
Because of this, said Johanna, she finds it difficult to secure contractual agreements with retailers to supply them with fresh produce as she is new on the market product and her products are unbranded.
Johanna is therefore calling on for more support to be availed to young farmers such as herself in order to make a secure living out of their hard work.
“Support programs should be established for farmers throughout all the stages of the value-chain, from inputs and production until consumption,” she says.
The young farmer hopes to own a large farm someday in order to operate on a larger scale than she does now.
She encouraged her peers to take agriculture seriously and become food heroes for their families, communities and the country as a whole.
“Agriculture is nothing to shy away from as it keeps everyone on this planet alive. Let us all be food heroes to ensure a food secure future for all.”
In light of the upcoming World Food Day commemoration, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, FAO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform is compiling a series of feature articles highlighting #FoodHeroes who contribute to =food security in the country.
The global #FoodHeroes campaign was launched last year in 2020 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations as part of its World Food Day commemoration to pay homage to all food heroes who – despite all difficulties – continue to provide food to their communities and beyond, particularly throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
The World Food Day (WFD) is celebrated each year on 16 October to promote worldwide awareness and action for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. The date commemorates the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) by the United Nations (UN) in 1945.
In Namibia, the WFD event is organized annually by the FAO in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR) with the support of various stakeholders. This year’s WFD event will be celebrated under the theme: “Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.”
The event will take place in the Erongo region, in the Topnaar community of Utuseb, located approximately 40 kilometres south of Walvis Bay in the Walvis Bay Rural Constituency.