WINDHOEK - With the current severe drought where farmers continue to lose their livestock, De-bushing Advisory Service (DAS) organisation has started a series of training advising farmers on bush-based animal feed production.
Many desperate farmers have been cutting the little available grass along national roads, riverbeds and mountains and packing them into bags to transport to their respective regions in an attempt to save their vulnerable livestock.
Other Namibians who are unemployed also grabbed the opportunity of cutting grass and sell it along the roads to desperate farmers.
General Manager of DAS Progress Kashandula explained that bush-based animal feed production is a viable option for Namibian farmers, especially in times of drought. “Farmers can diversify their income and sustainably contribute to tackling bush encroachment. They can ensure a more productive use of their land. We see a big opportunity for our farming community and for land users in this value chain,” Kashandula said.
The dire shortage of animal fodder is reflected in Namibian trade statistics. In 2016 animal fodder ranked as the eighth largest import good, with total fodder imports valuing close to N$4 billion, equivalent to the gross value addition of the entire agricultural sector.
The trainings are conducted by Dagmar Honsbein, on behalf of the De-bushing Advisory Service. The De-bushing Advisory Service is a national knowledge broker on bush control and bush encroachment and works closely with existing agricultural and extension service on mainstreaming capacity for bush control and biomass utilisation
To support farmers, DAS has been conducting a series of trainings across Namibia with a focus on bush encroached regions.
The latest round of trainings took place in the northern parts of the country, in Otjetjekua, Amarika and Okambali this week.
At the trainings, he explained farmers learn about key principles of bush to animal feed production and get insights into the practical production process. Kashandula said the use of basic tools, which are readily available on farms, such as pangas and axes, is demonstrated.
“It is not necessary to procure expensive machinery to produce animal feed,” he said.
In addition, Kashandula maintained as part of its capacity development efforts, DAS has launched a capacity development project focused on bush control, biomass utilisation and entrepreneurship targeted at officials working in the bush control and biomass utilisation sector and for unemployed, young graduates of natural resource management studies. This initiative, he says is about to be piloted with theoretical and practical trainings scheduled to take place in July and August in Okahandja at the Andreas Kukuri Conference Centre and a nearby farm.
Afterwards, he added trainees will be mentored over a number of months so that they can gain hands on experience in passing the knowledge on.
Despite the challenges, he said it is proven that when done right, animal feed can be a solution to the current drought situation.
A study conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, the GIZ Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation (BCBU) project and the UNDP Sustainable Management of Namibia’s Forested Land (Nafola) project showed in 2017 that bush-based animal feed production is a viable and promising concept.
2019-07-11 08:29:57 8 days ago