Tucked away in the hills of the South East District in Botswana is the small village of Manyana. Typical of most small villages in Botswana, Manyana has that quaint and rural charm, where modern life and village life collide. Despite the natural beauty of the village, there are problems that besiege Manyana such as a lack of opportunity for its inhabitants to earn a decent living. This is why Debswana funded Manyana Community for a horticultural project to start a fruit and vegetable garden to alleviate poverty and unemployment. This was done after a request by the village chief, Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele, to assist financially with the resuscitation of a horticultural project for his community.
“I saw potential in my people and the land we live in. There is the perennial river of Kolobeng, which is right next to the site of the horticultural project. This source of water, the fertile land, the much needed cash injection from Debswana and the sheer determination to fight poverty was all we needed to be able to create what we see now today,” Kgosi Mosielele says. The horticultural project kicked off in the beginning of 2013 with Debswana donating P270 000. These funds were used to getting the land back to ploughing condition and refurbish or replace some of the equipment. The project has seen tremendous growth in the year that it has started, with beneficiaries already seeing an improvement in their lives. The group has so far produced butternut, green peppers, onions, spinach, chillies and tomatoes to their local market, selling to passing motorists along the Gaborone/ Kanye road. “Our challenge is to be able to go out there and sell to the wider public because our yields are getting bigger and we need to sell to a larger market,” the Chief told Teemane News.
Chairperson of the community horticultural project, Ms Gladys Mothei, can attest to the difference the project has made in the lives of families in her community. “Since the project started, we can now feed our children, buy school uniform and contribute positively to the local economy,” she said at the project site. The project has 5 groups of 10 members each which translates into 50 people working on the project. The groups are broken down by their individual uniqueness with a women’s group, youth group, disabled people group and social and community development destitute group to name a few. Each group has been given a piece of land to work on and their daily sales are banked and recorded by the committee treasurer and proceeds shared out after the running costs of the project are settled. “It is a case of reaping what you sow. Our groups are committed to seeing an outcome and the months of hard work, coming to the field everyday have paid off and we currently have over P160 000 in the bank,” Mothei elaborated. The success of the project has attracted more donors in the form of Filtration Africa who are assisting with the construction of greenhouses and the commercial production of tomato sauce.
It can be said that Debswana’s CSI Programme does make a tangible and sustainable difference in the lives of ordinary Batswana. With an initial investment of P270 000, Debswana has helped the people of Manyana with a project that will support them for many years to come.