Windhoek – The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has releases N$10 million (approximately US$714 000) to avert the effects of a devastating drought on Namibian farmers over a six-month period.
Other partners to the project include the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and two farmers’ unions – the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) and Namibia Commercial Farmers Union (NECFU).
Namibia is currently experiencing the worst drought in 60 years which has also ravaged crops in neigbouring Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
FAO Namibia country representative, Farai Zimudzi, said the project aims to reach 3,250 households (approximately 14,300 people) affected by drought that devastated the country during the 2018/2019 agricultural season.
She added that the initial project was formulated late December 2019, targeting five regions - Ohangwena, Omusati, Kunene, Hardap and Omaheke and was later expanded to Erongo and Kharas regions of Namibia which have also seen a drastic slowdown in yields and death of livestock because of the unavailability of water.
“The project focuses on providing life-saving support for livestock owned by the project beneficiaries - aiming to provide feed produced from the non-mechanised hydroponic fodder production systems, and provide essential veterinary support to the same targeted households. The support will be delivered over a six month period and for a total value of just under N$10 million,” Zimudzi said.
FAO added that the support comes on the back of another shot in the arm of N$9 million provided in 2019 to provide hay, multi nutrient blocks and the rehabilitation of boreholes and traditional wells in Kunene, Omusati, Erongo and Omaheke regions.
Other support provided in response to the drought included training on Livestock in Emergencies Guidelines (LEGS) which targeted extension staff from MAWF.
“While the project focuses on providing emergency life-saving support over a very short duration, there is no escaping the fact that climate change is taking a toll on agriculture in the country - especially smallholder agriculture that is so dependent on rainfall. In the light of this, there is a need to step up resilience building measures that buttress smallholder farmers’ shock-absorbing capacity through a whole suite of measures: be they improved water harvesting, in-field water harvesting techniques to improve soil moisture retention, use of drought-tolerant crop varieties, fodder production, to name a few,” she said.
“In view of this, I urge you all to agree on concrete time-bound actions to ensure that this project is successful in reaching the neediest livestock farmers in the target Regions. The challenge is significant, given the scope of work and available time. But looking around this room, listening to the introductions and expectations, I am persuaded that collectively, we are more than equal to the task.”
Executive director in the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry, Percy Misika, said his government continued to prioritise averting the effects of the drought on the country’s farming sector, leaving more than 450 000 households needing food aid.
He also called on development partners to come to the rescue of the Namibian farmers through providing the latest farming techniques and resources needed to avert the effects of climate change and drought.
According to the Namibian government, the current drought is by far the worst phenomenon to hit the country in the past 60 years.
Misika said the initiative will create alternative for farmers including hydroponics fodder production as well as irrigation.
as Namibia was one of the hardest hit by the effects of climate change in the Southern African region.
"Farmers in Namibia are hard pressed with the ongoing drought and urgent remedies are needed to avert the problems inflicted on the farmers by the calamity," he said.
The support scheme, Misika said, will include provision of veterinary services to farmers who are into animal husbandry.
Misika said investment in better forms of agriculture will go a long way in protecting farmers from losing their yields to drought.
FAO also said their organisation looks forward to working with the Namibian formers. The project will also include Namibian National Farmers Union.