KINSHASA, DR Congo, Oct. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Congolese shoppers visiting local markets in and around the capital of Kinshasa made a startling discovery in recent weeks -- fresher vegetables and lower prices offered by the Kitoko Food Farm, a joint project of the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF) and the Fleurette Group to improve food security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Employing local workers and using innovative farming techniques, a six-hectare (15-acre) pilot project at Kitoko is yielding high-quality produce that can be sold at prices significantly lower than the cost of imported food from outside the DRC.
With its sustainable farming practices and affordable produce, Kitoko is taking important strides to combat chronic malnutrition in the DRC. At the same time, the farm and its techniques are designed as a model that can be easily replicated elsewhere, to become part of a global solution for food security.
Workers at Kitoko, located about 30 miles from Kinshasa, recently brought a truck loaded with boxes of sweet corn, peppers, beans, eggplants, cabbage, tomatoes and other produce to local markets. The European-quality vegetables created a stir, with market goers marvelling at Kitoko's inexpensive, attractive offerings.
"I never thought I'd see food of this wonderful quality available to the poorer community here," said Mama Jeanin, a trader at a market stall.
"Using and expanding the Kitoko model, we believe top-quality produce can be plentiful and affordable for communities across the DRC," said Fleurette senior advisor and GFF co-founder Dan Gertler. "Establishing similar farms in other provinces will help reduce hunger while boosting employment."
Kitoko operates in a kibbutz-style system, and residents benefit from shared facilities and services. When fully developed, Kitoko will include on-site housing for 60 families, a primary school, a health clinic, an agricultural training academy, and 1,500 acres under cultivation.
Using Kitoko as a model, satellite farms are planned for all of the DRC's 11 provinces, and students trained at Kitoko will teach others about the farm's high-tech irrigation and fertilization techniques. As more and more Congolese learn Kitoko's methods and put their sustainable agricultural skills to work, it will have a substantial impact on creating jobs, providing affordable food, and improving the quality of life across the DRC.
For further information about GFF, visit www.gertlerfamilyfoundation.org/en/
SOURCE Gertler Family Foundation