Namibian farmers look to climate smart technology to mitigate drought effects

Farmers livelihoods in Namibia have been adversely affected, as they continue to battle with grazing pastures, bush encroachment and escalating feed prices, all coupled with the current year-on-year drought.

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A local resident is seen with barrels of water in Baringo, northwest Kenya, March 12, 2015. Residents of Baringo County are experiencing extreme cases of hunger as a result of the long periods of drought in Kenya. According to Kenya's Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, a total of 1.6 million people in arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya are in danger of dying as a result of hunger. (Xinhua/Simbi Kusimba)
A local resident is seen with barrels of water in Baringo, northwest Kenya, March 12, 2015. Residents of Baringo County are experiencing extreme cases of hunger as a result of the long periods of drought in Kenya. According to Kenya's Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, a total of 1.6 million people in arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya are in danger of dying as a result of hunger. (Xinhua/Simbi Kusimba)

These are challenges farmers in Namibia are enduring, but recently a smart climate agricultural solutions company, Agri GreenGrow, came up with new enhancements to livestock farming in dry areas with the introduction of aeroponic fodder technology in “Climate Smart Feedlots.”

Hennie Strauss, a farmer from Keetmanshoop, a town located in southern Namibia, is using the aeroponic sprouted fodder unit to supplement his livestock and he is benefiting from this smart technology.

“To provide supplement feed to my 80 cattle in the form of Lucerne will cost me 2,700 Namibian dollars (174 U.S. dollars) per day. Taking into account interest on my capital outlay for the fodder unit, seed cost, electricity charges plus wages, I now provide the same supplement feed to my cattle at a cost of 478 Namibian dollars (30 dollars) per day,” he said.

“Climate Smart Feedlots,” a term coined by Agri GreenGrow, allows farmers to run profitable feedlot operations from anywhere in the country.

The all-year-round climate smart sheep feedlot, has a comprehensive self-sustainable farming solution that includes an aeroponic fodder unit producing sprouted fodder in seven days, high quality affordable feed produced for the sheep feedlot every day of the year as the main feed ingredient and uses 96 percent less water than conventional farming.

Keith Thompson from Agri GreenGrow said they started with the pilot project, at a specific farm, in Outjo, which is 317 kilometres from the capital, Windhoek.

Agri GreenGrow combined a sheep feedlot with aeroponic fodder production to create a climate smart feedlot which operates 365 days a year in Namibia where arid and semi-arid land are the order of the day in Namibia.

According to Thompson, Agri GreenGrow’s sheep feedlot in Outjo measures only 600m² in size on which 90 sheep have successfully been fattened for market.

“The results obtained were above industry norm with the carcass weights being the most impressive, slaughtering out 16 percent more than industry averages,” he said.

Thompson said with aeroponically grown sprouted fodder available every day of the year as the main feed ingredient, sheep are bought and sold every month right through the year and there is no more seasonal farming while waiting for the erratic rain.

Thompson said that the big difference between a climate smart feedlot and extensive farming methods is that sheep use approximately 40 percent of the energy from its feed to graze when farmed extensively, while in an intensified climate smart feedlot that 40 percent energy is saved and rather expended on weight gain.

“As grazing land is not needed for the climate smart feedlot, we allocate 10m² per sheep. Thus a feedlot of 400 sheep can be run successfully on less than half a hectare, compared to the conventional land carrying capacity of 6000m² per sheep. Half a hectare versus 240 hectares is quite a difference,” he added.

Thompson said currently there has been a huge interest in the climate smart feedlots from across Namibia and next month their organization will build feedlots for other farmers in the other regions. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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