Namibia’s cattle country region, Omaheke, has taken on a diversification strategy to include crop farming and many residents now prefer to call it “the cattle and agro region”.
Omaheke governor Pijoo Nganate said the region envisages establishing an Agro-Processing Hub. He stated the region no longer wishes to depend solely on livestock farming; thus, farmers have embarked upon diversification and embraced the lifestyle change that comes with it.
Also, Peter Kazongominja, Councillor of Aminius Constituency in Omaheke, said his constituency is moving in the right direction regarding diversification. Kazongominja said farmers have taken advantage of the recent good rainfall the country received and embarked on crop production, which is now a major farming initiative in the Aminius constituency.
“The drought conditions we experienced spoke louder in our ears that we need to diversify and not only rely on livestock farming. This is a good thing in a form that the community can now be self-sufficient for a long period and not only rely on the government for food assistance,” he said.
To start on the ground with diversification, Kazongominja stated the region was blessed with hydroponic gardens at school level from UNICEF Namibia and the UN World Food Programme, which was launched by education minister Anna Nghipondoka last month. The gardens complement Chief Sofia Primary, Mokganedi Secondary and Omuhaturua Primary Schools’ feeding programmes with fresh vegetables to meet children’s basic nutritional needs. It is expected that the hydroponics gardens in the Omaheke region will benefit three schools, comprising around 1 270 learners.
Both Nghipondoka and Nganate had the opportunity to learn more about the hydroponic gardens and jointly harvested fresh vegetables with learners at Captain Sofia Primary School in the Aminius constituency, where the recent launch took place. Teachers, learners and parents in the community were trained to ensure the maintenance of the school gardens.
Representing the Omuhaturua Primary School and teacher responsible for the garden, Jackson Ndjavera said crop production has a positive input into the food chain that improves environmental sustainability.
He concluded that the diversification effort has numerous benefits to the community, including poverty reduction, improved food security and supply as well as an additional source of income.