Home World News Emerging Markets Namibian farmers embrace alternative techniques for better yields amid drought

Namibian farmers embrace alternative techniques for better yields amid drought


In rural Namibia, subsistence farmers cultivating rain-fed pearl millet crops are integrating traditional and alternative agricultural techniques to enhance seasonal yields.

This approach is crucial as Namibia anticipates reduced rainfall from February to April, with the majority of the country experiencing below-normal rainfall in December 2023, according to the Climate Watch report by the Namibia Meteorological Service.

Recognizing the challenges faced by farmers due to the impact of suppressed rainfall, the Namibian government has allocated over 3 billion Namibian dollars (about 160 million U.S. dollars) for drought relief in affected communities and sectors.

Selma Jacob from a remote village in the Ohangwena region reflects on the transformative impact of tractors on her farming practices. While tractors are not entirely new in Namibia, this marks the first time she has had access to one for ploughing her fields.

“In the past, we only had oxen and donkeys to pull the hand-held plough, which was time-consuming. But we were fortunate to receive tractors this year,” she said. Jacob expressed gratitude for the tractors, saving her time and reducing labor-intensive tasks, allowing her to concentrate on sowing and weeding.

The Namibia Agricultural Mechanization and Seed Improvement Project, implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform with financial support from the African Development Bank, plays a pivotal role in supporting farmers.

The ministry’s spokesperson, Jona Musheko, said that the project, which has acquired 350 tractors along with matching implements and other equipment, aims to assist farmers by providing mechanized services for efficient and timely farm operations.

Musheko emphasizes the challenges faced by rural producers in accessing agricultural inputs such as seeds, farm machinery, and equipment required for proper land preparation, planting, weeding and harvesting. He said that these interventions will enhance agricultural production, productivity, and food security at household, regional and national levels.

In the Kavango West region, Abraham Faire, a subsistence farmer cultivating pearl millet, adopts the practice of crop rotation, alternating pearl millet crops with legumes to replenish soil nutrients and mitigate the risks of pests and diseases. Faire sees this strategic approach as a game-changer, expressing hope for abundant harvests.

Meanwhile, farmers in the region have established a grassroots farmers’ union. Johannes Ausiku, the Kavango West Farmers Union chairperson, said that this platform allows locals to collectively address challenges and support each other during adversities.

Ausiku believes that this unity strengthens resilience and fosters camaraderie and shared purpose among farmers and the larger community, as they collectively hope for a bumper harvest.

Pearl millet, a subsistence rain-fed cereal crop and the primary staple food for over 50 percent of the Namibian population, is produced in eight of the country’s northeastern and western geographical regions.

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