For nearly three years, Teo Tobias’ household in Eyakulo village in Namibia’s northern Oshikoto region has been food insecure following poor crop yields of staple pearl millet due to climate change variability.
During the 2015 and 2016 farming seasons, Tobias said he suffered major losses on his farm due to drought.
In April 2015, Namibia’s Office of the Prime Minister announced that over 400,000 Namibians were affected by drought. The drought loomed into 2016, seen as the worst in more than 30 years for the country.
For Tobias, it never rains but pours. Climate change variability persisted.
“As if poor yields in 2015/16 due to drought was not enough, in 2017, I harvested next to nothing following flooding and pests. We mainly relied on government food relief,” he said Friday.
For the current farming season, the 46-year-old farmer decided to try farming with pearl millet, but this time more strategically.
According to Tobias, it took creativity, hard labor and toiling.
“We had to be strategic with our farming techniques. Sowing was done after the third rainfall, instead of the usual sowing after first seasonal rainfall. That way, we prolonged crops growth and enhanced survival rate of the crops,” he said.
Today, Tobias is a happy man, optimistic about the harvest prospects. The strategies are set to herald a bumper harvest for the farmers.
“Also, this year’s rainfall was sufficient to grow crops. We anticipate a bumper harvest of pearl millet and sorghum,” he said.
Matheus Ndjodhi, an agro-business analyst in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, said that based on the crop assessment conducted in February 5 to March 2, most of the crop producing regions are expecting a better crop harvest.
“We have received good to moderate rainfall in some regions, which should be sufficient to aid in better crop yields for farmers,” said Ndjodhi.
Tangeni Toivo, another farmer from Eyakulo village, said that his homestead too is expecting a good harvest. Like Tobias, Toivo turned to irregular methods of farming to mitigate the impact of climate change.
“This farming season I turned to crop rotation to fight pests and tried other pearl millet seed varieties to improve yields,” Toivo said.
Government efforts to provide subsidized services including ploughing and seeds through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry regional extension offices has aided in the farmers’ improved prospects.
For Toivo, that is a blessing.
“God blessed us with good rainfall this year. Not only is that, but support given by Government through the regional agricultural extension offices has been invaluable. We complemented the blessing of rain with hard work, and we shall reap what we sowed,” he said.
The farmers also anticipate a surplus — something they have not been able to achieve over the past three years.
“If all goes well and we do not experience any pest outbreaks and birds that feed-off our crops, we will be able to sell the surplus and generate an income to supplement our families’ food basket,” said Toivo.
In the interim, Tobias said that they also plan to share yields with fellow villagers. “We ought to share our yields with those who may not be fortunate enough to have a good harvest, and share strategies we employed in the coming year,” said Tobias. Enditem