KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, March 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
The Gertler Family Foundation (GFF) and the Fleurette Group have launched a multi-million dollar, sustainable agricultural scheme; aimed at creating a new generation of farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and elevating the country from severe food deficit to oversupply and export within the next decade.
The DRC, a low-income food deficit country as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization, is unable to provide its growing population with sufficient food, despite possessing nearly ideal natural farming conditions. The establishment of the Kitoko Food Farm, a 600 hectare land parcel on the banks of the N'Sele River, some 50 km outside of Kinshasa, marks the first phase in the joint GFF - Fleurette Group's long-term project to help address this problem.
Lead by renowned agronomists Gil Arbel and Max Muland, the Kitoko Food Farm is the first in a number of high-tech, practical and sustainable fresh food and vegetable farms to be established as part of the project. More than 90 percent of the farm's workers live in surrounding villages or were already living on the farmland. Operating in a kibbutz-style system with more than 60 families living on the grounds, the farm will also include a primary school and health clinic. By the end of 2013 it is anticipated that some 400 Congolese, including permanent and daily workers, will work at the farm.
The second phase of the program will see the construction of an agriculture academy training center to foster local and national farming potential and improve the knowledge base of local agronomists, while simultaneously providing local markets with fresh quality products.
"It is of vital importance for the country's economic growth and the social empowerment of its farming communities that projects such as this, which focus heavily on education, are put in place to make sustainable agriculture in the DRC a reality," explained agronomist Max Muland.
Kitoko Food Farm has partnered with local and international organizations and is aiming to join forces with additional organizations to multiply the number of farms based on this unique structure and knowhow.
"We have been pioneers in the DRC," said Dan Gertler, Senior Advisor to the Fleurette Group. "Our work throughout the country is multifaceted, spanning numerous sectors, and long-term. Our agricultural activities, such as Kitoko, are a keystone in our drive to encourage entrepreneurship in the region. While some exploit the richness of the local soil for foreign markets, our first and immediate goal is to produce food for local consumption in a sustainable way."
"We are pleased to work closely with the Government of the DRC to create innovative solutions that are commercially and environmentally sustainable, scalable and socially inclusive." Mr. Muland added. "As a Congolese, I know first hand that the DRC needs to grow its own fresh food and we are proud to be on the forefront of helping transform the country's agriculture sector into a sustainable industrial activity."
A team of Congolese and expatriate farmers, assisted by experts from abroad, are working at the Kitoko Food Farm to improve trials of vegetable production and soil quality with organic fertilizers ahead of the first major sowing and planting campaign in October 2013. A similar programme of activity is also ongoing at the Kitoko Food Farm's sister project in Lubumbashi.
The Fleurette Group and the Gertler Family Foundation are committed to helping address the needs of vulnerable segments of the Congolese population.
For more information about the GFF, please visit http://www.gertlerfamilyfoundation.org
SOURCE Gertler Family Foundation