Shongola Agri-Products – Offering Solutions for Food Insecurity in Northern Namibia
Namibia is an arid country that is prone to drought and faces challenges of water scarcity. This impacts the livelihoods of persons that have grown pearl millet (mahangu) as a staple food in the northern regions. “We have realized that the production of mahangu in northern Namibia is not the same and we want to bring the project to the community of Okongo in the Ohangwena region” said Fillemon Shatipamba, co-founder.
Shongola Agri-Products was conceptualized in 2016 and registered as a business in 2019 by its founders Fillemon Shatipamba, Kgosietsile Katamelo, Sakaria Nalusha and Paulis Mungandjera. The company has a vision to produce fresh fruit and vegetables to supplement community members’ diets, give them opportunities for livelihood and bring development to the community through attracting other development initiatives and investors. Thus, the company aims to create an environment where these community members can produce food during climate change and drought experienced by the country.
Shongola Agri-Products believes that “the agricultural sector is the backbone of the economy and will provide its beneficiaries with the basic ingredients and raw materials for agricultural industrialization. It also aims to look at self-made sustainable food production in Namibia and beyond”- Fillemon Shatipamba. The company will offer its produce to the community, street vendors, small restaurants and supermarkets at an affordable price.
Shongola Agri-Products is a socially conscious company that acknowledges that these community members are not used to incorporating fruits and vegetables into their diets due to their focus on staple food like pearl millet. However, the gaining food security and sustainable livelihoods from such staples is being threatened by the prolonged drought in Namibia as the production levels of pearl millet have dropped substantially. The company champions for flexibility in food production and contends that because food is an essential commodity for humankind, this makes the business of fruits and vegetables impactful.
Shongola Agri-Products explained their unique approach as: “We are going to have indoor greenhouses that are controlled environments for our production. These greenhouses will also be climate-smart due to our intentions of accessing boreholes in the area, which is known to have a big underground aquifer” explains Fillemon Shatipamba.
Shongola Agri-Products will further impact the community by providing them with employment by aiming to employ unskilled and semi-skilled workers from the community and capacitating them to work in the greenhouses. This is a lifelong skill that the community members can use elsewhere one day. The company will foster an ethos of skills transfer to help community members improve their livelihoods as they can use their skills to set up gardens at home and become producers and not only consumers. Shongola Agri-Products will supply the community with fresh water as they rely on traditional wells dug decades ago and do not have a pipeline or borehole. Shongola Agri-Products will finally give renewed sense of purpose to the elderly as most of the youth have left the village due to urbanization and will further encourage the community at large to adopt a balanced diet.
Shongola Agri-Products recently acquired the land for its business and is in the process of applying for a leasehold, servicing the land and sourcing funds to drill a borehole. The company’s goal for 2020 is to have the land fenced and to drill the borehole in furthering its project.