40 000 to benefit from agri project

The Environmental Investment Fund is working to improve rangeland management in the northwest of the country.

18 June 2019 | Environment

More than 40 000 beneficiaries are expected to benefit from a climate change project in the Kunene Region.

This is 57% of the total population of the Kunene and 50% of the beneficiaries will be women.

This is according to deputy agriculture minister Anna Shiweda, who launched the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) project last week in Kunene.

The project is titled 'Improving rangeland and ecosystem management practices of smallholder farmers under conditions of climate change in the Sesfontein, Fransfontein and Warmquelle areas'.

It was formulated through a number of meetings and consultations with the agriculture ministry as the implementing institution and the environment ministry as the nationally designated authority to the Green Climate Fund, and with key stakeholders in Kunene.

According to Shiweda the main targeted areas were selected based on equitable development distribution and vulnerability to climate change, as Kunene is one of the most drought -prone areas in Namibia.

The project will particularly address the impacts of increasing temperatures and higher water evaporation on crop production, bush encroachment on land productivity, and improving rangeland and ecosystem management practices of smallholder farmers in the region.

“These will be achieved by introducing climate-resilient agricultural practices in the three green scheme projects of the Sesfontein, Fransfontein and Warmquelle areas as learning sites,” said Shiweda.

The project further aims to reduce the vulnerability of smallholder farmers under climate-change conditions, by safeguarding natural capital that generates ecosystem services to sustain agricultural production.

This will be done by implementing climate-proofed mechanisms that will support a combined 500 hectares of drip-irrigation systems in the region.

It also aims to rehabilitate at least 80 000 hectares of rangeland through supporting appropriate ecosystem management plans at local levels that will improve grazing areas.

The project will also support the rehabilitation of two green schemes facilities at Sesfontein (11 hectares) and Warmquelle (seven hectares), which will be used as a learning centre for climate-resilient agricultural production for local smallholder farmers.

A community-based green scheme at Fransfontein (40 hectares) will be established to transfer lessons learned from the other facilities, said Shiweda. Furthermore, capacity-building for the nine farmers' associations in the Kunene Region will be undertaken by mainstreaming disaster risk management and climate change adaptation in their operations.

Shiweda said as a direct result of climate-induced vulnerabilities, household food security and nutrition situations have been compromised. This is compelling households to supplement food deficiencies with government drought relief.

“Drought relief, while desirable as a relief measure in the short-term, is neither a sustainable option nor a long-term adaptation option. Climate change is here to stay and our farmers should be prepared to adapt and be resilient in all possible ways.”

Shiweda pointed out that Namibia is a net importer of most agricultural commodities such as grains, livestock feeds, and horticultural commodities, amongst others.

She, however, said there is great potential for the production of most of these commodities in Namibia if climate-smart agriculture strategies are deployed by farmers.

“It is for this reason that the government is currently implementing a conservation agriculture programme according to which each farmer is expected to adopt at least one climate-friendly technology.”

Shiweda expressed concern with regard to the low level of youth involved in agricultural activities.

According to her statistics show that about 37% of the population is made up of young people under the age of 15 years, while the average Namibian farmer is 68 years old. She said this scenario is worrisome in terms of the future of the agricultural sector, and she therefore urged youth to engage in agricultural activities and pursue entrepreneur opportunities that exist in the sector.

Shiweda added that the ministry values and appreciates the unprecedented support it receives from the EIF, more especially for making resources available amidst the slow economic growth experienced by Namibia.

She said the fund had so far demonstrated leadership, as the only nationally accredited entity to the Green Climate Fund, having accessed about N$560 million in total aimed at addressing climate change in the past three years.



ELLANIE SMIT

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