• November 19th, 2018
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Emerging commercial farmers progress but challenges remain


Kae MaÞunÿu-Tjiparuro Windhoek While progress has been made through awareness meetings in different regions and farmers now understand the importance of rangeland principles, emerging commercial farmers still face many challenges in rangeland management, says a member of this sector of a farming working group on rangeland, Seretse Olibile. Olibile was one of the participants in the National Rangeland and Bush Encroachment Forum session here last month. With respect to the challenges which commercial farmers face in knowing the resource base, Olibile cites lack of knowledge, suggesting training by DAPEES (the Directorate of Agricultural Production, Extension and Engineering Services) and experts as solutions. Regarding effective management of rangeland so that it can rest and recover, he points out lack of know-how as the main cause of all problems faced by all emerging commercial farmers, as well as the lack of mentors. To manage the utilisation of rangeland effectively he sees too big camp sizes; lack of farming knowledge; part-time farming and group resettlement as the challenges. Possible solutions to these challenges are the subdivision of camps, availing funds to DAPEES to go out and train farm managers, and the Agricultural Bank of Namibia ring-fencing loans rather than only concentrating on loans to make business. Overstocking, overgrazing and deforestation are the challenges working against enhancing soil conditions. Possible solutions are training in farm management techniques and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry buying in on the National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy. The fight against bush encroachment faces challenges such as farmers not qualifying for loans to fight bush encroachment, the inhibitive terms and rates of Agribank loans and restrictive policies. Olibile suggests in this regard that the government creates a soft loan under the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development; that Agribank softens its commercial bank stance; that the government harmonises policies, and the Department of Forestry review its policy and approach towards forestry to include bush encroachment. Regarding drought planning, the challenges are lack of knowledge in implementing drought planning; overstocking and overgrazing; lack of business plans; DAPEES be deployed to educate farmers on rangeland management, and that mentorship be applied. In monitoring the resource base, lack of knowledge, part-time farming making it difficult to keep proper records, and the lack of enough veterinarians and mentors to assist farmers are the challenges. He thus suggests that line ministries team up to help farmers, and that full-time managers with sufficient skills be appointed and mentors be increased. Lack of capital and ownership work against planning in land use infrastructure, thus capital should be subsidised and loans be provided at low interest. Also recommended is that the government speeds up the rehabilitation of farm units on resettlement farms and that it makes allotments. CAPTION: Making a case…A member of emerging commercial farmers Rangeland Working Group, Seretse Olibile, explaining the challenges they are facing during the National Rangeland and Bush Encroachment Forum last month in Windhoek. Picture: ECF Rangeland Photo: Emmency Nuukala
New Era Reporter
2017-12-12 16:17:10 11 months ago

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