1000 cabbages from the desert
Wülfrath development project conquers Botswana’s supermarkets
The project idea sounds as simple as it is challenging: provide people in Botswana with healthy fruits and vegetables while enabling them to start their own businesses as small-scale farmers. That was the motivation for the Climate Smart Agriculture project of the Wülfrath-based SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund.
Less than a year after the project started, the first 1,000 cabbages are filling Botswana’s SPAR supermarket shelves. More vegetable shipments of corn, tomatoes and beans will join them in the future.
“The step onto supermarket shelves is a quantum leap. Because it shows that when people are given expert support in development projects, they can achieve a high degree of professionalization in a short time,” says foundation founder Lars Gorschlüter.
What sounds so easy and natural is a huge challenge in the semi-desert country of Botswana. Normally, fruits and vegetables there are imported mainly from the rainier regions of South Africa, because hardly anything grows in Botswana’s dry soils. Thus, in SAVE’s climate-friendly CSA project, it was crucial to prepare the sandy soil and equip it with a solar-controlled irrigation system and a shading system. Thirty farmers living around the Okavango Delta were trained in ecological farming methods and the use of organic fertilizers, as well as in accounting, marketing and sales. The project is supported by Duisburg-based travel provider schauinsland-reisen.
“It was important to us,” says SAVE founder Lars Gorschlüter, “to offer people an alternative to livestock farming. After all, the more livestock are kept close to national parks and game reserves, the greater the conflicts with wild animals and the more frequently lions are shot when they tear cows and goats,” says the founder of the foundation.
For the conservationist, the project is a threefold success: First, people who were hit particularly hard by the Corona pandemic were able to build a new livelihood. Second, they now have enough vitamin-rich food for their own consumption, which is an important contribution to the health of the local population. And thirdly, the CSA projects are an important contribution to species and wildlife conservation.
With the listing in the SPAR market in Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta, even travelers support the fruit and vegetable cultivation project. This is because the supermarket with SAVE products is the main port of call for anyone stocking up for their multi-day safari into the delta.