Jesaya Shipingana has dreamed of having his own vegetable garden since he was in secondary school more than 20 years ago. But farming requires land and land is expensive. So he pursued other ways of earning money. He has had various types of informal employment over the years and recently found himself totally out of work.
Through economic downturns and pandemic lockdowns, Jesaya could see that a different approach was needed to become self-sufficient. He took dramatic action and demolished his own shack. The open space was used to increase his aerobic compost production for his own use and to sell to fellow community members at a fraction of the price of imported compost.
He took the opportunity to educate others on how to make their own compost. “I am training our people so that we do not depend on other countries to import compost . We have a system of our own,” he says. He also plants onions, spinach, tomatoes and herbs, amongst others.
Jesaya’s purpose has become to share his knowledge and skills. At 42 years old, he now teaches young people in his community basic gardening techniques. “Agriculture is for the benefit of the entire nation and not just for the person owning the land,” he says. He has assisted several community members in setting up gardens in the area with the intention of generating an income for the owners as well as food for consumption. If Namibia wants to achieve food security, this is the way to go.
Jesaya hopes to show his fellow Namibians that waiting for handouts is a sign of comfort in poverty. Covid-19 was an exception but it’s not an excuse to continue to be dependent. Food security is in the hands of the man on the ground and not the government. He feels that the food bank set up by the government increases dependency and fosters a high unemployment rate. The ability to feed ourselves is in our own hands.