KINSHASA, DR Congo, Oct. 17, 2013 / PRNewswire – An innovative agricultural project in the DRC is equipping citizens with the tools and skills needed to increase the country’s food security and advance the DRC’s agricultural and economic development.
The 1,482-acre Kitoko Food Farm and Agricultural Academy, a joint project of the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF) and Fleurette Group, teaches modern, sustainable farming techniques that help families and communities overcome debilitating food deficits and become self-sufficient. The program provides farmers with practical, hands-on training, seeds, farming tools, irrigation systems, fertilizers, and assistance in getting their crops to market.
“We are committed to building a future in which the DRC can feed itself,” said Fleurette senior advisor and GFF co-founder Dan Gertler. “Kitoko is just the first step in establishing food security in the DRC.”
Using cutting-edge farming and management techniques and technology, the Kitoko Food Farm – located about 30 miles outside of the capital of Kinshasa – is designed not only to help the DRC combat endemic hunger, but to provide communities with jobs and better lifestyles.
Kitoko operates in a cooperative, kibbutz-style system that ensures maximum support and sustainability. Development plans call for construction of a primary school, health clinic and housing for 60 families by 2014. The farm, which currently employs 80 Congolese, is projected to produce hundreds of tons of peppers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and other vegetables by 2014, supplying local markets with fresh, high-quality produce at prices significantly lower than the cost of imported food from outside the DRC.
With social, agricultural, educational and financial components, Kitoko is a pioneering pilot project for private investment in international food security efforts in Africa. It is designed to be commercially viable, environmentally sustainable, and easily adaptable to other communities.
Expansion plans at Kitoko include development of an agricultural training academy where 120 students a year will be taught the farm’s innovative farming and management techniques. After their instruction, students will fan out to manage other satellite farms modeled on Kitoko that are planned for all of the DRC’s 11 provinces, with supplies and training from Fleurette and GFF. Together, this network of farms will teach future generations of Congolese sustainable techniques that will have a significant impact in helping the country overcome its food deficit and alleviate poverty.
For further information about GFF, visit www.gertlerfamilyfoundation.