An apple a day keeps hunger at bay

The idea is to invest in communities' food security, but also to create a way for them to earn an income.
Elvira Hattingh
More than 60 people have already benefited from the Southern Botanica Namibia Trust's Wambugu apple project since April - with a total of 350 apple trees and Groasis water boxes distributed to those in need.
This so that they can grow their own food and possibly even earn an income from the apple trees.
Esther Hoveka, the director of the trust, explains that they are a registered charitable fund that received a donation from an American company, Vegamour, for the project.
The company already buys marula oil from Namibia and wanted to invest in the community through the apple project.
"Our aim is to reach another 100 households this year who will each receive ten apple trees. For this we have established a nursery at Ondangwa and we buy some of the apple trees every three months," she explained.
"The idea is to invest in communities' food security, but also to create a way for them to earn an income with it," said Hoveka.
Peter Maloki, the project's program manager, explains the project involves selling Wambugu apple trees from their nursery in Ondangwa at N$220. These proceeds are again used to buy seedlings and water boxes and donate them to vulnerable households in rural areas.
"We keep the project viable by selling the saplings and the grow boxes at cost price plus 10% to people who can afford it. That way we generate money to be able to buy more seedlings and grow boxes in the future," said Hoveka.
Maloki says that although those in need receive the saplings and grow boxes as a donation, they still have to pay N$50 for them, because they believe it creates "pride of ownership" for the beneficiaries.
Apple trees
The apple trees originally come from Kenya, but some have already successfully been planted in Katima Mulilo and Ondangwa.
"The good thing about the apples is that the tree takes between nine months and a year to start bearing fruit, while other apple varieties can take up to seven years. In addition, the tree can produce up to three harvests a year," said Maloki.
He says the Groasis Waterboxx device is a "water battery" that can keep seedlings wet for a long time with little water. It can keep two seedlings wet for as long as three months with 20 liters of water. The boxes sell for around N$350 each.
Hoveka says a problem with planting trees in rural settlements is that people often do not have sufficient access to water to keep the trees wet. "That's why we distribute the Groasis water box together with the trees."
She explained that beneficiaries are first trained to be able to use the seedlings and the water box, after which each receives five seedlings and five water boxes.
Hoveka says they want to expand the program nationwide. "We have already identified a school at Schlip that has the Garden of Hope project, where food is produced for 130 children. We donated ten apple seedlings and growing boxes to them. We plan to eventually donate 20 saplings to them," said Hoveka.
She says a third component of the project is the distribution of fuel-efficient stoves that use maroela shells. "We want to distribute the stoves among households, because the smoke is not healthy for children. In addition, it can also save wood," she said.
Hoveka says trees and grow boxes are delivered in Windhoek if people buy them, while arrangements can be made to transport them to buyers in other parts of the country.
For more information, contact Maloki on 081 651 5411 or [email protected].
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