WINDHOEK – Government has launched an agricultural project that seeks to reduce the impacts and risks from the combined effects of natural variability and increasing climate-induced high temperatures and other changes on crop and livestock production cycles at Warmquelle in the Kunene Region.
The Environmental Investment Fund Project also aims at improving ecosystem management practices of smallholder farmers under conditions of climate change in Sesfotein, Fransfontein and Warmquelle, all in the same region.
Officiating at the launch, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Anna Shiweda, said the ministry selected Kunene Region, with Sesfotein, Fransfontein and Warmquelle as the main targeted areas of implementation.
The criteria for selection, she said, included equitable distribution of development and vulnerability to climate change as Kunene is one of the most drought-prone areas in the country.
“The project development team made a field trip to Kunene in June 2017 to further discuss and refine the project activities with key stakeholders at local level,” she said.
“Today we are witnessing the success of this consultative process and we should, therefore, applaud the team for the wonderful job,” she added.
The deputy minister said the project will address three aspects, namely, impacts of increasing temperature and higher water evaporation on crop production, bush encroachment on land productivity and improving rangeland and ecosystem management practices of smallholder farmers.
She said Namibia is the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, characterised by high climatic variability in the form of persistent droughts, unpredictable and variable rainfall patterns, high temperature and scarcity of water.
“Climate change affects both livestock and crop production under rain-fed conditions,” she said, adding that while both crop and livestock play an important role in the livelihoods of local and indigenous agro-pastoral communities, they highly depend on rainfall and Mother Nature.
As a direct result of climate-induced vulnerabilities, Shiweda said, household food security and nutrition situations are compromised, compelling households to supplement food deficiencies with government drought relief.
“Drought relief, while desirable as a relief measure in the short term, is neither a sustainable option nor a long-term adaptation option. Climate change is here to stay and our farmers should be prepared to adapt and build resilience in all possible ways,” said the deputy minister.
Namibia is a net importer of most agricultural commodities such as grains, livestock feeds and horticultural produce, among others.
“There is great potential for production of most of these commodities in the country if we deploy climate-smart agriculture strategies to our farmers,” she added.
Shiweda said it is for this reason that the government is implementing a conservation agriculture programme, according to which each farmer is expected to adopt at least one climate-friendly technology.
“The shortfall in the sector should be viewed as a business opportunity for young people, especially agriculture graduates,” she said, adding that it is high time that the youth learn to strategically position themselves to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to them even by nature.
2019-06-18 11:16:27 29 days ago