By Nuusita Ashipala
Omatunda Ganekundi — The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has revealed that more women have participated in the agro-ecosystem management training, also known as Conservation Agriculture (CA).
CA is aimed at improving food productivity while preserving the environment, especially during the unstable climate change experienced in recent years. About 57 percent of the 2,225 farmers, who received training in CA during the 2017/18 financial year are women, FAO has revealed.
FAO project coordinator, Uparura Kuvare, says apart from the farmers, 57 extension and research technicians also received training. A national training manual has also been developed while a mobile phone-based extension and learning system is being piloted with 2,000 farmers so that it can be rolled out to the rest of the country.
CA is promoted to mitigate climate change effects including prolonged dry spells in order to boost food production. The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) is carrying out the programme in partnership with FAO. A Comprehensive Conservation and Agriculture Programme (CCAP) framework has been developed and launched to oversee the implementation of the project. In addition to FAO, the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) is supporting the implementation of the CCAP through N$2 million funding from the United Nations for a period of two years.
Last week, the ministry of agriculture and its partners visited one of the model projects at Omatunda gaNekundi in the Ohangwena Region to share information with local farmers on some of the best practices to explore during the dry spell.
Senior agriculture scientific officer, Megameno Amutenya, said the region has set up 40 model projects to illustrate to farmers and help them make informed decisions on how to ensure they continue to produce enough food during dry seasons. Amutenya added that one of the technics being applied at the model farms is to encourage farmers to move away from the traditional way of ploughing to a much more modernised approach using the ripper tractor. According to Amutenya, the ripper approach has minimal soil disturbance, which is a pre-requisite to increased food production.
“With the ripper, the topsoil which contains the nutrients is minimally disturbed leading to increased food production. The ripper approach is encouraged because it only opens up the area where one is to plant,” said Amutenya.
She further encouraged the farmers to plant in the furrows as opposed to planting on high land, as the crops have potential to absorb water and moisture when in the furrows. Farmers who attended the event were happy with the new approach, saying it had the potential for a good harvest. Although the crops in the model field were just about two months, they had developed much faster than crops in the locality. The farmers were convinced that the ripper approach equated to a better harvest than the old traditional way of ploughing. Farmers are encouraged to visit the ministry to apply for the ripper tractor after the first rains at the end of the year. They are charged a market price for the service rendered.
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