MATSITAMA: At the age of 86, Baitse Onowe is still going strong and feeds her family from proceeds of her backyard garden. This is one person who can attest that the spirit of self-reliance can enable one to have a dignified livelihood.
Onowe told Monitor Business that in 2013, in response to the poverty that has afflicted her village, she enrolled under poverty eradication programme. Matsitama is a village mostly populated by people who live in abject poverty, majority of who depend on government programmes.
Onowe who was funded for a backyard garden in 2014 applauded government for this initiative.
The octogenarian who has been depending on government for food baskets disclosed that ever since her garden’s inception in 2014 she has been rotating vegetables and able to raise money for her household use and has never looked back.
Through hard work and passion, she managed to soldier on despite challenges encountered over the years.
“At first I was not sure if I can manage this business but waking up every morning to prepare my garden has been the most amazing thing ever,” said Onowe.
Onowe said operating a garden business might sound not serious to some other people, but for someone of her age is something that keeps her busy whilst earning her money.
She stated to have been motivated by a Setswana maxim, ‘Mosadi tshwene o jewa mabogo’ (a woman’s worth is her ability to provide) to establish her backyard garden business.
Onowe said in Setswana culture, a woman, whatever her age, works hard to feed her family.
The mother of five and grandmother to three said currently she is no longer fully dependent on government and her children for food because with the profit she makes from selling vegetables she is able to buy herself grocery. She said she started by planting tomatoes and they gave her a profit of P 1, 200 and that money motivated her to do more and kept on rotating vegetables every season.
“I am an old woman. I no longer dream of becoming rich but having something that can put food on my table is the most important thing. This initiative is meant to promote household food security especially amongst older people like me who are no longer able to work,” she said.
Onowe said she has a standard price of P5 for all of her vegetables and can make a profit of between P50 and P100 daily, hence applauding the village community for the support.
“People like my vegetables because they are always clean and fresh. I make sure that my garden is up to date, free of weeds, neat and appealing to my customers.
At times, I use the profit to buy chemicals and fertilisers for my vegetables.”
She said the poverty eradication scheme brought her a variety of vegetables seeds, chemicals, garden equipments, Jojo water tank and a standpipe as a start-up package of her project.
In 2014, she underwent a two-weeks training under poverty eradication at Marapong village where she was equipped with necessary skills on how to be a horticultural farmer.
Onowe called on Batswana to take advantage of government’s poverty eradication programmes to empower themselves and stop dependence on government.