Caring for the earth is a huge part of our mission and is present in every Heifer International South Africa (Heifer) project. Smallholder farmers living in the rural areas of South Africa face immense challenges on a daily basis. Many of these challenges are brought on by a harsh environment – droughts, soil erosion and declining bee population to name but a few.
Due to years of environmental degradation many of the communities in which Heifer works are struggling to produce strong, resilient crops or manage healthy livestock such as goats and chickens. Drought is a crucial influencing factor in a smallholder farmer’s success particularly in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces. However, Heifer field staff are able to train project members on water saving techniques such as tower gardens and growing specific vegetables and crops which are suited for that region, which do not require large amounts of water.
The use of livestock and vegetable production by each Heifer project household provides the project members with a reciprocal farming approach which reduces the amount of external inputs needed. The manure from the livestock is used to fertilize the vegetable gardens, which means there is no need for households to purchase expensive fertilizers. The leftover vegetables not used or sold by the family are then fed to the livestock – providing them with much needed added nutrients and vitamins as well as reducing waste. Natural bug repellent plants and flowers are also planted alongside the vegetable gardens, reducing the need for pesticides which are harmful to the environment.
All of these approaches used by Heifer contribute to the rehabilitation of the environment in rural communities and provides Heifer families with the tools to improve their agricultural practices whilst caring for the earth.
To find out more about Heifer International South Africa, please visit our website www.heifer.org.za or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.