Owners encourage self-sufficiency, solar and water drilling

Desert Bloom farm might not be a well-known name but for the owners, Wendy Boucher and her husband Sample Boucher, it is a source of pride because they have toiled the land on their own, and are working on developing a commercial farming project.

They have basically turned a hobby into a business and this will bolster the economic activity in the area, create more employment for locals and also inspire other Batswana to incorporate agriculture and farming into their lifestyle.

Boucher moved to Botswana from Zimbabwe in 1992 after her family was one of those displaced during the land reform period in Zimbabwe. Most of her family relocated to UK and she decided to move to Maun with her husband.

She left teaching in 2019 and the couple graduated from being 'weekend farmers' to being hands-on farmers. Her husband is a keen farmer and professional hunter, and they share a love for farming, which has made it easier to graduate their farm from a barren piece of land to a flourishing hive of activity blooming with flora and fauna.

They use solar for electricity because the farm lies off the national grid. There is also no water connection so they rely on rain water. The area has humid and dry climate but they just had to be innovative.

"We have a cache roof tent connected to Jojo tanks. We collect water from the Boteti River once a week for household duties such as washing and cleaning and for the animals' consumption. Apart from that we use rain water;

God has been good because we have enough water but of course we hope to be connected to water pipes soon. We are also currently digging a borehole for underground water," she said.

They have an organic horticulture space where they have planted cherry tomatoes, rape, spinach and onion and chillies. The soil in the area is sandy but they use compost chicken manure. They also have paw paws, lemon, pomegranate and granadilla.

They also rear goats and ducks and chickens (eggs) which they sell, and plan to buy cattle for meat and milk. Boucher said they see the potential of a large-scale farm that is self-sufficient.

The area is also wildlife dense and there is no fence which means that it is common to spot wild animals such as leopard, hyena and lions.

They have not had any incidents with wildlife attacking them or crossing into their residential area but they still ensure there is safety by installing a predator proof barricade.

"We have never had problems with predators so far. We co-exist with the animals," she said.

Boucher said that the only experience they had once was of an elephant that damaged their crops and fence. They thereafter summoned Government officials who made inspection reports and disbursed compensation without any hassle.

The farm is an hour from the tarred road and a 30-minute drive to Maun. There is a distance of 30km between the next farm. It lies on an area which is known as the old BLDC farms, which were used by cattle farmers who neglected them in the 1970s when river dried up.

"The land lay vacant and Government put out a tender and we bought one. The main challenge here is that we are not connected to the water pipes but water is life, and many people struggle to live in such an area but we are coping."