Staff Reporter Windhoek-Twelve years after Namibia committed itself to an attempt to recognise the need to rapidly accelerate access to, affordability of, and incentives to use fertilisers together with agricultural practice such as Conservation Agriculture (CA) to stimulate sustainable pro-poor productivity growth in Africa, CA has not reaped the expected benefits. This, despite government launching an N$96 million Comprehensive Conservation Agriculture Programme (CCAP) in March 2015 that is to run until 2019. The German International Development Cooperation (GIZ), and the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) are partners in the programme. This year, CA is again under pressure as the rains stay away and more than half of Namibia’s 2.3 million residents living in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) rely on their crops. The project has been hampered by consecutive drought years, adaptive constraints and a cash-strapped government forking out millions for drought aid food. CA was dealt another blow when the internationally funded Namibian Conservation Agricultural Project (NCAP) came to an end in 2016. Namibia signed the agreement with the Africa Union / New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AU/NEPAD) in Abuja, Nigeria in June 2006 and Namibia started this process some ten years ago but some of the government subsidies were either halted or privatised due to lack of funds. The CCAP aims to increase awareness and knowledge of CA among stakeholders, including farmers, extension workers, researchers and policy – and decision-makers; increase farmers’ and extension workers’ skills of practicing CA; conduct farmer-focused research and to develop appropriate CA technologies and packages for the farming systems. It also aims to establish institutional arrangements for harmonised and coordinated implementation of the CA programme; ensure farmers have sustained access to CA equipment, inputs, markets and services and; develop standards, and then monitor and evaluate adoption and impact of the programme. The programme is meant to target all crop producers in Namibia, encouraging them to adopt CA practices, depending on the resources available to them. The programme also aims at providing government assistance in a form of subsidy to: communal crop and livestock producers concentrated in Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Kavango-East, Kavango-West, Zambezi, Otjozondjupa, Kunene, Omaheke regions; as well as Hardap, Erongo and //Kharas regions. As well as commercially rain-fed farmers where applicable, including resettlement farmers, affirmative action farmers and irrigation farmers in the Maize Triangle and elsewhere and farmers as categorised in horticultural programmes. Farmers from the GRN Green Scheme Irrigation projects (commercial irrigation schemes with some rain-fed cropping, large scale service providers and associated medium scale emerging farmers), farming along the perennial rivers in the extreme northwest, northeast and south of the country and near the country’s dams elsewhere are also included. By CA crop farmers use a ripper or direct seeding methods instead of ploughing to minimise soil disturbances. This method has been successfully promoted in neighbouring countries and has been piloted in Namibia for about ten years with Baufi’s Agricultural Supplies manufacturing anything from rippers to hand-drawn ploughs. On-farm research on CA will be implemented until 2019. CA has led to considerable increases in crop yields. Responding to questions from Farmers Forum regarding the achievements of the Comprehensive Conservation Agriculture Programme (CCAP) since its inception last March, Senior Public Relations Officer in the MAWF, Margaret Kalo, says to complement existing national initiatives in achieving national food security, the MAWF formulated the CCAP via a stakeholder consultation process. “Whilst the MAWF developed the CCAP recognising the development opportunity provided by climate-smart Conservation Agriculture (CA) and complementary Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) as a suitable approach in our farming systems, it is imperative to note that adoption constraints at all levels must be overcome to mainstream CA in a targeted manner involving all stakeholders who have a role in ensuring its success,” she notes. “With notable stakeholder interest and backing, moreover their agreement with CCAP implementation modalities, the MAWF is confident that all overall targeted interventions will be achieved by 2019,” she assures. Kalo also points out that the N$96 million announced at the launch of the project are not funds that are available but merely the required budgetary resources for the implementation of CCAP over its five years. The figure does also not account for interventions, products and services provided by the government of Namibia under other ongoing and planned programmes. However, it is commendable that MAWF and stake holders have to date secured substantial resources that enabled the collective and satisfactory implementation of CCAP interventions.
2018-01-16 10:00:08 8 months ago