• August 14th, 2020

Climate Change manifestation into drought

The climate change topic has been well elaborated on for years now. It appears to be evident that the effects of climate change on agriculture are observed in many parts of the world. The arid regions  of  southern  Africa  of  which  Namibia  is  part, the  effects  of  climate  change  have  been observed. Agriculture in Namibia rests on both livestock and crop, of which the livestock industry pre-dominates. Both these industries are vulnerable to the unforgiving climatic conditions such as drought and floods, including concomitant events such as pests and disease outbreaks. Climate change events have manifested mostly in a form of drought and floods in Namibia, while unusually high temperatures  are  conspicuous  in  the  more  arid  environments  such  as  the  southern  and western regions. Namibia has endured recurrent drought conditions since year 2013, affecting the drier regions such as the south, west and north west up to the point where human lives were claimed to have been lost as a result. Although there have been some improvements in rainfall activities from  year  2016,  they  are  still  erratic  and  irregular  in  most  parts  of  the  country,  thus threatening  the  country’s  sustainable  agricultural  productivity. The 2018/19 season is  again worrisome as many parts of the country have not received significant showers yet, and that the rainy season has progressed, indicating another drought situation.

Drought is characterized by a period of insufficient rainfall (far below average/normal) depriving the soil  of  moisture,  resulting  in  poor  land  productivity.  Consequently, drought  conditions compromise  livestock  productivity,  farm  income,  and  farmers’  sustainable  livelihoods.  During drought, livestock  conditions  deteriorate  due  to  thirst  and  hunger,  and  eventual  deaths  are conspicuous. Farmers do not earn much from their livestock as market prices fall because the animals’ body conditions are poor, and there is insufficient fodder or grazing to maintain them. Financial burdens  become  heavier  as  farmers  tend  to  depend  heavily  on  commercial  feeds supplements so survive the drought.

To safeguard  Namibia’s  agriculture,  appropriate  and  sustainable  drought  coping  strategies should be explored and cheaply adopted. The most  important  stage is  where farmers have to make  decisions  for  any  strategy  chosen.   Basically, they  have  three  options: relocate  the animals, sell the animals, or feed the animals, or a combination of these options.
When a farmer decides on any or all three options, there are some key questions to be answered so that the decision is economical and not counter-productive in the end:

a.    Where to relocate and how far from essential services (e.g. markets, inputs)?
b.    Which animals and how many to be relocated?
c.    Is there sufficient and reliable grazing and water?
d.    What is the duration of your stay at the new place?

a.    Which animals and how many to sell?
b.    When and where will they be sold?
c.    Is there a restocking plan?
d.    How much money is expected from sales and what is it budgeted for?

a.    Which animals and how many to be fed?
b.    Is there sufficient feed and additional money for extra feed?
c.    How much costs and for how long is the feeding period.
d.    What is your farm fodder flow plan and which are the sources?

Finally,  no drought conditions of  different  years are similar,  and there is no standard recipe to cope  with  drought.  Therefore,  every  year,  a  farmer  should  re-assess  his/her  farm  business  in terms of finances, feeds, and ability to survive any drought year. he next article will address some of the questions.

Erastus Ngaruka
Technical Officer: Livestock within Agribank

New Era Reporter
2019-01-25 09:20:21 | 1 years ago

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