Despite its obvious benefits, the noble initiative of subsistence crop farming, which enables a family to feed right off the fields, have not been successfully replicated across the country.
Many of us still rely on supplies from shops for our daily needs, ranging from maize meal to an onion. This begs the question: what needs to take place to allow such farming to be popular?
Granted, this form of farming does come with its own challenges, as it requires a constant supply of water, good soil and constant weeding to make sure your produce is of good quality and that they contain the right nutrients.
This should, however, not be a discouragement
as there are challenges in every form of farming,
from animal husbandry to large and small-scale horticulture. The key here is to start small.
If you buy onions every day, why not prepare a small bed in your backyard where you plant these? If such a set-up ends up giving you even just that one onion you need per day, then you would be saving some much-needed dollars. Needless to say, you can also sell the excess produce you do not need.
If this works to your satisfaction, you can then slowly branch out to other forms of crops that would complement your family’s nutritional requirements. The report by Agribank elsewhere in this edition of AgriToday is a good point to start off if you plan to go bigger.
Summer is approaching, and with it good rain prospects too. Make use of the opportunity by launching your own small garden to keep a perennial flow of produce for your family.
As it stands, only 2% of Namibia’s land receives sufficient rainfall to grow crops. As all inland rivers are ephemeral, irrigation is only possible in the valleys of the border rivers Orange, Kunene and Okavango.
Subsistence farming is, therefore, mainly confined to the communal lands of the country’s populous north, where roaming cattle herds are prevalent and the main crops are millet, sorghum, corn and peanuts.
It has not been easy for these farmers too, as chronic drought and consequent water shortages resulted in the deaths of animals and crop failures. Also, widespread soil erosion and land degradation, lack of agricultural land and isolation from markets continue to haunt crop farmers.
Africans are renowned for their indigenous knowledge of veld food, and how to run almost anything that grows organically into foodstuff. Sadly, this type of knowledge has diminished over the years as people appear to prefer more genetically modified foods.
We need to return to such knowledge, and strive to grow our own food, in our own little way. We might still have a long way to go in getting all to understand the importance of such a mode of farming, but let’s start now.
Let’s start today.