• August 11th, 2020

Rangeland project kicks into high gear …aims to recover devastation in five years

Deon Schlechter

WINDHOEK - The National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy Project (NRMPS) is in its last phase of conclusion and permission has been asked from the European Union and Namibian agricultural ministry to focus on the development of a five-year recovery plan. 

This plan would normalise production per hectare whilst the precious and depleted grazing resource would recover. 

The current disastrous drought conditions force producers to decrease the vast majority of their herds and each and every producer now focuses on survival.

The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) says it is the responsibility of every farmer to plan on how Namibia can recover from overproduction and at the same time survive financially. 

“When it starts raining again, producers will have to rebuild their herds and will thus have less livestock to market. This puts enormous cash flow pressure on every business which must be managed pro-actively,” the NAU says.

For this reason, intense discussions will take place between all role players and will hopefully start within the next two weeks.

Pressure is also mounting on government’s intention to restore Namibia’s valuable rangelands at a whopping cost of some N$30 billion in accordance with Vision 2030 as the shocking state of these rangelands have been laid bare due to consecutive droughts since 2013.

Government has announced that N$570 million is planned to be used to cover food assistance to communities affected by drought and to provide water tankers, amongst other things.
The government, under this programme, would also provide livestock management incentives to farmers and subsidies to crop farmers.

Livestock farmers would also be given transport subsidies to transport their animals to and from grazing areas under the programme.

The government will also provide lick supplements and a fodder subsidy for livestock.
It has now transpired that government will need at least twice that amount to secure the survival of humans and animals up to the new rain season in November.

Participants from across professions and organisations will later this year again come together to exchange latest insights around improving the productivity of the grasslands and livestock in Namibia at the 23rd Namibian Rangeland Forum. 

It was decided at last year’s forum that the brittle and neglected Namibian rangelands are in dire need of recovering in a time where the country has to adapt to climate unpredictability and climate change along the whole value chain. 

The phenomenon of bush encroachment, which has taken root in Namibia due to poor rangeland management practises, has already had a significant impact on the productivity of Namibia’s rangelands.
Increased carbon dioxide levels continue to accelerate climate change which is expected to increase risk and further increase bush encroachment over time.  

Government adopted the National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy (NRMPS) in 2012. The NRMPS contains sound rangeland management principles intending to improve rangeland management. 
Farms in Namibia today hold half the number of livestock that they did in the 1950s. National meat production is in decline and the livestock industry as a whole is in a crisis situation as a result of a declining resource base, says Colin Nott, local rangeland expert who was part of the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia(MCA-N)’s Community Based Rangeland and Livestock Management (CBRLM) policy. 

“We are failing at a national level to provide perennial grasses with a conducive environment for their productivity to be expressed. It could be said that we are doing almost everything we can to ensure perennial grass plants (the basis of a healthy livestock industry) have no future in Namibia as a whole. Should this trend be allowed to continue, the country will face unprecedented social and political problems,” he notes. 

Chief rangeland researcher of the NRMPS, Leon Lubbe, says some 70 percent of the population is dependent on the rangelands for their well-being. 

“All the guiding principles of sound rangeland management will have to be implemented to secure success,” he concludes. 

Staff Reporter
2019-06-11 10:13:33 | 1 years ago

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