In collaboration with a vibrant group of Namibian graduates in the field of agriculture, WAYKS’ latest campaign for transformable bags was shot in the extraordinary landscapes of their vast and beautiful homeland.
On a cold and rainy day last year, we packed our bags for a big adventure to come. What had been in the planning for over a year, was finally going to happen: visiting our good friend Leonie (yes, she is also called Leonie) to learn more about her impactful and innovative agricultural project AvaGro in the Namib desert of Namibia.
Looking back, 2020 was a challenging year for WAYKS. Being dependent on the travel industry has been tough for our young business. It was difficult to face the unknown, not to know where this journey would take us. The energy levels were low.
Arriving in Namibia, the vast, open spaces instantly took our breath away and the positive energy of its people – even in these challenging times – was contagious. The country and also its tourism sector were hit hard by COVID. A lack of foreign visitors and missing financial support from the government are pushing many people to financial ruin. Yet, we experienced an optimism and a positive outlook to the future that kept us staying in the country for longer than we had initially planned.
We felt so inspired by the energy, wanted to capture this vibe on camera and bring across this optimistic spirit in our new campaign. We decided to shoot our new product range of Sling Bags and the Day Pack Mini in Namibia. There was not much time left, but it simply was a chance that we could not miss.
We found a fantastic local photographer and our friend Leonie approached a lively bunch of agriculture students, who are currently undertaking training in precision desert agriculture on AvaGro’s farm. They were so thrilled to take part and since they all live and work together, there was no safety concern with regard to COVID.
We were excited, this was going to be a unique shoot. But we didn’t expect such a special outcome - a campaign full of positive energy, pride and optimistic spirits. But let the photos speak for themselves.
*all photos taken by Willem Vrey
Farming in the Namib desert
Namibia is the driest sub-Saharan country, most severely affected by climate change resulting in rising temperatures, rainfall variability and increased droughts, making the country highly dependent on other countries for agricultural produce.
The COVID-19 crisis has amplified this challenge and the urgency with which farmers are to respond to the pressing need for fresh produce. Because of the established focus on livestock farming in Namibia, precision agriculture is not widely practiced.
However, changes in climatic conditions require a shift in agricultural practice and greenhouse technology offers a controlled environment that reduces vulnerability to these changes.
AvaGro: Knowledge to grow a better future. Together.
AvaGro is an agricultural solutions provider, born out of the intent to contribute to the shift from traditional farming to precision agriculture. On their flagship project “Farm Shalom” outside the town of Swakopmund, they grow flowers and vegetables on a commercial basis in the Namib desert.
The team behind AvaGro use their experience in this harsh climate to advance solutions to help create climate-change resilient livelihoods for local communities. Agricultural practices like greenhouse technology help local farmers go beyond the limitations of climate and significantly boost food production. AvaGro offers greenhouse production solutions in Namibia and supports farmers with the setup of the required infrastructure, with training, as well as the preparation of nurseries for the selected crops, among others. Leonie's vision: If we can foster sustainable agriculture in the desert, where constraints – water, soil and climate – are amplified; we can do it anywhere.
AvaGro & Innovative Green Hands - Taking Horticulture forward through Innovation
At the start of 2020, in collaboration with the University of Namibia, AvaGro has introduced a new project, providing graduates of agricultural studies with further training in precision agriculture. Since May 2020, the students have spent every day on the farm, gaining direct knowledge in crop production and greenhouse management. Additionally, they are equipped with skills in enterprise, to prepare them to establish and run their own projects upon completion of their training and thus changing them from job seekers to become job creators.
Eight of the ten graduates participating in this year-long programme are female. Historically and traditionally, women form the backbone of agriculture on the African continent, but are excluded in transitions to modern agriculture because of factors like discrimination and limited access to formal education.
The aspiring “agripreneurs” have two main objectives: to reduce poverty and to increase sustainable food production. Upon completion of the course they will develop a fully structured business plan and pitch the concept to investors who believe in their wealth creation ideas. They have already founded their own business: Innovative Green Hands.
If you want to learn more about their work, visit their YouTube Channel.