Nicole van Wyk
In Olushandja, in the Epalela area of Omusati region, there are numerous ambitious agronomists trying to survive on small-scale farming and are determined to bridge the gap of food insecurity in the country.
Along the Olushandja dam and the Calueque-Oshakati canal is one such farmer Sylvanus Naunyango, owner of the Nyango Vegetable Projects CC, whose contribution to agriculture is very profound.
He grows heaps of fruits and vegetables, tries to adopt new approaches to agriculture and aspires to be one of the largest producing farmers in Namibia.Sylvanus’s love for farming is palpable.
Since having taken up his role as a farmer in 1995, Sylvanus officially left his job as a civil servant in 2017 to pursue his passion for farming on a full-time basis.
Owning 21 hectares of land dedicated to producing horticultural products, he produces mainly onion, cabbage, tomato, beetroot, butternut, sweet potato and gem squash. Active and involved in community matters, he also occupies the role of chairperson of the Olushandja Horticultural Producers Association, where 105 other farmers meet on occasion to brainstorm, give one another technical advice and tackle issues concerning the community farmers.
This association was established in 2005 and has since become a primary pillar for farmers to air their grievances – but most importantly, to consider areas for growth, such as their dire need to penetrate the formal markets, which is high on their priority list.
“It is difficult for us to penetrate the formal markets, particularly to supply big retailers and government institutions.
We have quality produce; we are knowledgeable; have the technical know-how and other abilities but we are not benefiting from procurement procedures,” Naunyango said.
Other challenges farmers here are faced with and it is by far the most challenging is the lack of water in the Olushandja dam and surrounding areas, especially towards the end of the year. By then, water levels drop immeasurably.
Expensive inputs are a concern for farmers as well.
“Things like seeds or diesel are also expensive. Knowing that we are not producers of seeds in this country, we are more reliant on other countries, specifically South Africa to supply us with seeds, which makes things very difficult in carrying out farming activities,” he says.
As for diesel, they need fuel to pump water from the Olushandja dam to the fields. Incorporating solar pumps to replace using the fuel is environmentally friendly but it is an expensive exercise.
The fund, since the start of its relationship with Naunyango, has contributed 21 bags of 50kg organic fertilisers. EIF has sponsored about 37 tons of organic fertilisers.
Naunyango was on one of 35 members of the Olushandja Farmers Association who benefited from this project.
“EIF has exposed me to this amazing alternative method of disposing inorganic fertilisers and replacing it with organic fertilisers.
It is a more substantial way of farming and can lead to a longer life-span of my field,” said Naunyango.
The Fund’s Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Aina-Maria Iteta, said Naunyango was one of the direct beneficiaries, raising 21 bags for his project to the value of N$50 000.
“Five years ago, Naunyango was receptive to consider our suggestion of implementing and incorporating a new method of farming – and five years later, he and the other farmers from the association are still using this organic fertiliser,” Iteta said.
She added the initial aim of the project was to create awareness and promote the use of the organic fertiliser among farmers to improve soil structure, soil fertility and ensuring that scarce farming land is protected by minimising the use of chemical fertiliser, which has long-lasting detrimental effects on the soil.
EIF also did a post monitoring assessment that evaluates the adoption of this locally produced organic fertilisers, and the findings were impressive and very encouraging.
Greenfields Organic Fertilisers is a 100% Namibian, situated in Okahandja.
“Growth at home strategy can only be realised if Namibians support and use their locally produced inputs in transforming the agricultural sector, which is more affordable as compared to the importation of production inputs from other countries,” according to Iteta.
The mandate of the fund is to ensure the sustainable use and management of environmental and natural resources.
This is achieved by investing in projects that improve the use of natural resources or help reduce adverse effects on the environment.
The fund has developed several policies and procedures to ensure it effectively and efficiently delivers on its mandate.
This includes a stringent vetting process for every project, which, in some cases, includes actual site inspections and community engagements.
Prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the fund had a positive future outlook.
The emergence of Covid-19 has eroded an estimated 60% of the fund’s revenue for the 2020/21 financial year, impacting negatively on its cash flow, liquidity and operations.
The fund is adamant on its approach to smart agriculture and multidisciplinary approaches.