The Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) together with the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) in 2015 implemented the Conservation Agriculture (CA) Component under the ‘Farmers Clubs with Climate-smart Agriculture for Improved Resilience and Livelihoods of Small-scale Farmers in Kavango Project’. The aim is to improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, as well as assisting them with adapting to climate change.
Namibia is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts, primarily on rural people, who are highly dependent on the natural environment and its resources. The negative impacts of climate change (e.g. drought and soil degradation) are greatly felt by communities, causing reduced yields, and plunging them into low food security, poverty and malnutrition. As a result, communities now look for means to adapt and increase their food productivity.
Conservation Agriculture (CA) is a set of soil management practices that has proven itself to be the best method to adapt to climate change, through its permanent soil cover, minimal soil disturbance and diversification of plant association. What is relatively unknown about CA in Namibia, specifically under this component, is the positive impact that CA has on farmers, especially women. The project has not only underscored on producing better and more yields for farmers, but has also played a pivotal role in improvements of in-field water harvesting and use; institutional strengthening; as well as women empowerment.
The CA Project is active in 20 villages of the Kavango East and West regions, with a Farmers Club and a demo field in each village (the demo fields are the focal gathering point where experiences and lessons are shared). Since the project’s inception, 730 farmers were trained on the CA method, and in October 2017, 665 farmers graduated from the demo fields, to start practicing CA in their own fields, with women representing 85 percent. Also, for the 2017/18 season, the 665 farmers received a great harvest, with the following overall harvest data: cowpeas, 24 478 kg; maize, 9 698 kg; mahangu, 22 431 kg and; groundnuts, 951 kg.
Pauline Kahana, a CA graduate, comes from a family of five and is the breadwinner. Kahana was introduced to CA in 2015, at a community meeting held in Mayana, by the NNF. Kahana started practicing CA out of curiosity, as she wanted to compare the CA method with the traditional crop farming method. Since then she has not turned her back on CA. She said, “Before CA, I used to plant tomatoes, mahangu, and a couple more vegetables, but because of reduced yield, as a result of e.g. poor rainfall, I decided to try the CA method.”
For this season, Kahana only planted mahangu and harvested 1320kg. Happy with her harvest, and looking forward to the next season (2018/19), she plans to do crop rotation, as well as increase her field from 2ha to 4ha. With the harvest, Kahana plans to sell some of it to the Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA) and the rest will be for family consumption, she informed.
Farmers from the Kangweru Farmers Club, practicing CA in the demo field said that, “for the 2017/18 season, the ripping in the demo field started late, since we had to wait for a tractor from the Ministry of Agriculture’s subsidy programme.
During this period, we started to prepare in our own fields, the traditional way and at a later stage started with CA in the demo field. At the end, we realised that we actually harvested more with CA compared to the traditional method, even though we started late with CA. When we compared the CA crops with the traditional planted crops, we could also visibly see the difference between the two.”
The traditional method has densely populated crops with stunted growth due to poor spacing and broadcasting of seed, lack of colour vigour, and small heads for the mahangu. CA crops on the other hand looked the opposite, with proper spacing, the mahangu heads are big, and mulching is also done in CA - this helps retain moisture in the ground during the dry periods that farmers experience. Veronika Mantjodi of the Kangweru Farmers Club further explained that, had they only used the traditional method for the 2017/18 season, they would have had a very small harvest. Farmers remarked that they will continue to practice CA, use the acquired skills and also encourage others to adopt the CA technique.
The Conservation Agriculture Project is funded by the European Union through U-landshjälp från Folk till Folk i Finland rf (UFF-Finland), with additional support given to the NNF by the Pupkewitz Foundation.
You can watch the Conservation Agriculture documentary on the Namibia Nature Foundation Youtube Channel: NamibiaNatureFDN – Climate Smart Agriculture 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY2G7gJ3QGQ&t=1s
2018-12-18 11:09:24 7 months ago