MALTAHÖHE – The hydroponic fodder system in Hardap region is slowly gaining momentum with many farmers so far having created greenhouses to grow crops such as barley and lucerne to feed their livestock.
This follows the training of 433 farmers on the benefits of growing fodder using the hydroponic fodder production system.
Training was conducted in all eight constituencies in Hardap region and was facilitated by the agriculture ministry with financial assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
A hydroponic fodder system is the growing of plants without the use of soil and using locally available materials to construct greenhouses that can regulate temperature and facilitate the successful growth of hydroponic fodder.
Fabian Boys, an agricultural technician at Maltahöhe, said the training was necessitated by the need for farmers to adapt to climate change and become resilient mostly during the drought season.
“New smart agriculture technologies are being developed and introduced, thus farmers need to be capacitated with knowledge and skills so that they can successfully adopt such technologies and techniques,” Boys said.
Jacobus Hanse, a 52-year-old farmer who attended the training in Daweb constituency, said he would recommend the production system to any farmer who wishes to produce fodder.
“The grass grows at a very fast pace, you don’t even need much water,” said Hanse. Johanna Amakali, a chief agricultural scientific officer in Hardap region, noted that the recent drought has resulted in farmers in the south to move from stock farming to fodder production, especially since the region is considered to be the hub for lucerne production.
The ministry of agriculture has allocated funds to the national horticulture support programme in Hardap. So far 31 producers in the region have benefited from the project since 2019. The project has also created employment opportunities for the community. “There is a high number of farmers wishing to benefit from the horticulture project hence the financial allocation was increased from N$600 000 in the 2019/2020 financial to N$800 000 in the current financial year,” Amakali said. She observed that many farmers from the region have started producing lucerne, strawberries as well as other horticulture products.
During a recent familiarisation visit to the region George Fedha, the World Food Programme country director and representative, said he was impressed with the techniques used by the government and the community to tackle food insecurity.
“It is always a good start when you try to address sustainable solutions against hunger and that is one area where [we] at the World Food Programme work closely with the regional government and also the communities to harness that strength towards sustainable solutions,” said Fedha.
Fedha said FAO is currently working on providing seeds and technical support to stakeholders to assist the communities.
According to a food insecurity analysis unit report by the FAO, Hardap region is classified as one of the critical regions affected by food insecurity on the integrated food security phase classification.
The report states that about 430 000 people in eight regions in the country faced severe acute food insecurity between October 2019 and March 2020 and required urgent humanitarian action. The main driver of food insecurity in these regions is reduced agricultural production in 2019.