EU to roll out millions for Namibia’s rangeland

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WEST NEST LODGE – Namibia could soon receive a grant of N$11.6 million from the European Union to kick-start the implementation of the country’s first National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy (NRMPS) that could change the face of rangeland management in arid Namibia forever.

The multi-million dollar project was approved by government in 2012 and the multi-faceted programme will be implemented over a period of four years. It will consist of a Rangeland Advisory Committee and a Rangeland Coordinating Unit, with the Namibian Rangeland and Bush Encroachment Forum as the overarching body.

This was revealed last week at the opening of the 18th Namibian Rangeland Forum, held at West Nest Lodge near Witvlei, when chairperson of the Livestock Producers Organisation, Mecki  Schneider, addressed an audience from as far as Australia.

The theme of the conference year was “Towards whole farm management aimed at sustainably high profit”.

During the conference feedback was given about six projects which are currently in the process of being financed by the European Union. These include, inter alia, the establishment of a coordinating unit under the grant which has been made by the EU to the NAU (Namibia Agricultural Union) for the implementation of the National Rangeland Policy and Strategy.

Most of the projects relate to rangeland, the improvement of rangeland, the effect of climate change and combating de-forestation.

The programme officer of the EU delegation, Laura Imbuwa, expressed excitement about the overall goal of the project,  confirming the possible speedy signing of the agreement for such a grant to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.

She says this EU-funded action will enhance/support the speedy implementation of the NRMPS amongst all natural rangeland users in Namibia, improve rangeland condition and resilience and reduce the vulnerability of rural resource users to the adverse impacts of climate change, drought and desertification.

Schneider says the specific objective of the action is to effectively and efficiently coordinate the implementation of the NRMPS at national and regional levels.

He stressed the importance of government carrying on with the project after the initial four years to enable Namibian farmers to practise good rangeland management as the country has a relatively low and highly variable rainfall, together with a decline in rangeland productivity per hectare, bush encroachment and soil erosion. “These challenges are further increased by climate change,” he noted.

At the same event, Colin Nott of the Co-operative Agriculture Namibia announced another EU-funded project, the Rangeland and Marketing Development Support Project of more than N$11 million.

The lead applicant of this project is the Meatco Foundation and the co-applicant is Co-operative Agriculture Namibia. The six regional areas are Kunene North, Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Kavango East and West and the project duration will be thirty months.

The project hopes to improve the active involvement of key regional players in all seven regions to climate adaption activities through implementation of regionally appropriate responses, improved uptake and application of best practice rangeland management policies, improved herd production, improved marketing options and more receptive sellers in at least 30 grazing areas.

Other issues to be addressed include increased awareness of cropping best practices, the development of synergies with croplands and livestock, as well as local level land use planning, grass poaching, fire control and other key issues that affect livestock and rangelands.

Both initiatives hope to train and expose key stakeholders through regional meetings to agree on locally appropriate key messages and material for rangeland, livestock, marketing, cropping and local land use planning.