By Deon SchlechterWINDHOEK – Conservation agriculture is the new buzz-word in the seven Northern communal crop producing regions of Namibia after Kongalend Financial Services announced special small agri-business financing packages to such farmers last week.
Richard Shikongo, the Namibia Conservation Agriculture Project (NCAP) Coordinator, and CLUSA Namibia Country Representative, says the announcement was greeted with great enthusiasm by communal farmers from all seven regions and he expects these farmers to make full use of the unique opportunity now available to support communal farmers applying the conservation agriculture methods.
“Commercial banks are not very communal crop farming friendly and Kongalend, in cooperation with CLUSA, saw the opportunity to help such farmers by offering them these special financial packages and loan opportunities. The reaction to the announcement has been overwhelming and we expect great things from this combined effort to uplift communal farmers and help them to support their own families and contribute towards food security in the country,” Shikongo says.
Farmers and entrepreneurs are visiting the Kongalend loan offices for further information and for application forms. Successful applicants will be offering conservation tillage services (ripping furrowing) as agro-businesses in the seven northern Namibian dry land crop producing regions.
“I am very happy with the overwhelming response to the conservation tillage financing package offer as there is a huge demand from farmers to practice conservation agriculture. Currently there are too few service providers with rippers and good quality 4x4 tractors, and I would love to see many more,“ says Andreas Tweendeni, Field Coordinator for Oshikoto region in the United States Agency for International Development financed NCAP implemented by CLUSA and local partners Creative Entrepreneurs Solutions (CES) and Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU). “I have received a lot of phone calls and e-mails from people enquiring about the finance package, the ripping furrowing method and customer base” says Tuhafeni Nghilunanye, Assistant Manager at CES. Robert Tobias, Programme Coordinator at NNFU, is coordinating NCAP in Ohangwena region. “For Ohangwena I need many conservation tillage service providers with 4x4 tractors and rippers as I have a lot of farmers registered for ripping.”
Last week Olivia and John Shimpanda from the King Kauluma area close to Oshivelo drove all the way to Ondangwa to meet with Kongalend loan officers, Loide Kapuka and Peter Shindingeni. “So far I have received six completed loan applications and I am expecting more before the July 4 deadline. This is very encouraging,” says Loide Kapuka.
Olivia and John Shimpanda are lead farmers on the NCAP project and started practicing conservation agriculture tillage last season after attending a regional NCAP training. “We had our land ripped furrowed last year when we became lead farmers in NCAP. We had previously heard about conservation agriculture (CA) on the radio and wanted to test it but it was only last year that we got the opportunity and we want to thank CLUSA for that. As a result of CA we had the best yield we have ever had. Now the interest among other farmers in the Oshikoto region is growing rapidly and the demand for conservation tillage land preparation services is very high. We feel it would be great to become service providers as we are the CA pioneers in our area and we know the benefits from the methods. We are applying for the special offer loan and if we are successful we plan to operate as conservation tillage service providers from Oshivelo and further north of us in the Oshikoto region.”
In Rundu the NCAP regional Field Coordinator, Robert Mupiri, met five interested loan applicants for information sharing on NCAP and conservation tillage service provision as agri-business. “The interest for the loan is high as it is a very good offer and the demand from farmers for ripping is high. There is a strong consensus among the applicants of the importance of offering conservation tillage services to farmers for the sake of increasing local and national food security and to create local economic development. Some of the applicants are already practicing CA methods on their farms and know very well the benefits and the potential of massive up-take of the method.”
Johannes Amutenya, from Oshana region, has already handed in his loan application. “I am very interested in becoming a conservation tillage service provider as I know the high demand here in Oshana region. Having been involved in drought relief distribution, I see the urgent need for increasing food production and I know the production potential with CA as I practice it myself. Ripping furrowing tillage is not limited to the rainy season only, meaning your tractor can operate also during the dry season. It is a very good income opportunity.”
Samuel Nelongo from Eheke has been a conservation tillage service provider since September last year. “Although I am from Oshana region, I am ripping in Omuntele constituency in Oshikoto region. The demand there is so high I ended up spending months there as my customer base just kept growing.” Nelongo decided to switch from disc harrowing to ripping when he was exposed to the results from conservation tillage. “The yields from ripped fields are much higher than those from disc harrowed fields. With ripping you get a much better harvest no matter if it is a dry or wet crop season. The maintenance costs of a ripper furrower are much lower than that of disc harrows, which is saving costs in my agri-business.” Nelongo encourages existing and future tillage service providers to specialize in ripping furrowing: “Conservation tillage is increasing production. Farmers are asking for it as they are in dire need to become food secure.”
A medium sized 4x4 tractor fitted with a ripper with furrower wings are ideal for smallholder and small-scale sized farms having crop production on 1 to 20 hectares. The ripper furrower method is a conservation tillage technique within the wider scope of CA. The ripper tines crack open the compacted plough pan, allowing for deep root penetration, while wings fitted on the tines create furrows that guide rain water to the planting lines, thus creating in-field rain water harvesting. The method is also suitable during flood conditions since with the plough pan broken, the water can seep into the soil.
“This is the beginning of a real investment opportunity into the communal land farming sector. The CA agri-business financing offer by Kongalend is investing in service provision for smallholders and small-scale farmers. I am excited as this will bring change in improving food security and it will advance the livelihoods of the farmers as a result of CA techniques.” says Richard Shikongo.
New Era Reporter
2014-07-01 10:36:38 | 5 years ago