Mar 12, 2007

Rehoboth Basters: Greenhouse a Huge Success

High yields from community-based greenhouse enables Rehoboth community to depend less on government funding, provide local jobs and raise funds for neighborhood causes.

Below is an article published by The Namibian on 16 February 2007:

The Rehoboth community this month [February 2007] inaugurated a community-based greenhouse on the town's outskirts. The greenhouse - which has yielded a total of 3 000 tomato plants, 1 000 sweet-pepper plants and 200 English cucumber plants since its completion in September last year - has allowed the town to reduce its dependency on Government through its funding of a number of community projects, Environment and Tourism Minister Willem Konjore was informed.

The greenhouse was the initiative of the Rehoboth Community Trust, who according to Chairperson Ronald Kubas decided to embark on a community-based project that would go the distance.

"Historically, community-based and -focused entities in Namibia had the tendency of being here today and gone tomorrow, normally with a maze of questions regarding the whereabouts of funding.

We took an oath to run this trust in a professional, transparent manner so as to have a project that can sustain itself through at least one lifetime," Kubas said at the inauguration ceremony on Thursday [15 February 2007].

He said extensive research had been done since the idea was first introduced in 2004.

"We looked at what Israel is doing. Their climate is roughly the same as ours, and they've managed to do what few others have been able to," Kubas said.

"They've been able to become self-reliant as far as food is concerned, even to the point that the bulk of fresh produce in Europe comes from there."

It was not all smooth sailing for the project, though.

Kubas said the Trust failed to get land for the initiative from the local council.

Eventually they bought a plot from a private owner and construction on the greenhouse started in June last year.

The project created 54 jobs, both skilled and unskilled, Kubas said, and at the moment the greenhouse employs six permanent workers.

The trust is run on a commercial basis and the local business community has supported it so well that the demand for produce currently far exceeds supply, according to Kubas.

This project has also allowed the community to fund a number of social projects.

For example, money from the greenhouse project has allowed a number of Rehoboth children to study further with bursaries, allowed the community to upgrade dangerous patches of tar road, and has funded approximately N$6 000 worth of renovations to a clinic in the town's Block E settlement.

"I can see no reason why we can't supply the bulk of Namibia's [vegetable] needs," Kubas said, adding that the next goal is to expand the greenhouse's capacity.

A number of residents, as well as the local radio station Live FM, were on hand to witness the inauguration of the greenhouse in the presence of the Environment Minister, Hardap Regional Governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, local councillors and Baster Kaptein John McNab.

Konjore praised the community for their initiative and urged potential investors to support their plans for expansion.

"Gone are the days of Government supplying work to everyone. We must move away from being job seekers to becoming job creators," he told an applauding crowd.