Adapting to regenerative agriculture

30 September 2020 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

The Namibia Agricultural Industry Committee (NAIC) recently held its first meeting, at which regenerative agriculture in Namibia was discussed.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the three farmers’ unions, organic producers, banks, the agriculture ministry, Meatco, the Meat Board of Namibia and the Agronomic Board.

A presentation was done about the degradation of 60 million hectares of Namibia’s rangeland, resulting in loss of carbon from soils, loss of soil structure and water holding capacity.

This degradation has brought about a 50% loss of productivity and bush thickening has occurred.

According to the Namibian Agriculture Union (NAU), if the principles of sound field management in dry climates are applied, then reversing this degradation is possible.

Regeneration

It said several tried-and-tested methods have been developed by farmers and these have shown that this reversal is not only possible but highly profitable.

Last year, the three agricultural unions and the agriculture ministry developed a Regenerative Livestock Production Strategy that was produced by farmers for farmers. The document clearly states that the entire livestock industry in Namibia needs to adapt to support and enable regenerative agriculture in Namibia.

“Doubled sustainable stocking rates have been achieved by Namibian farmers who have changed to regenerative practices. These farmers were far more resilient during the last drought and are now in a good position to increase production and profits further,” said the NAU.

The union said if regenerative agriculture is upscaled in Namibia and soils, production and profits are improved at a large scale, water tables and water quality will improve, urbanisation will be limited, and rural economies stimulated.

“Namibia will be able to contribute to mitigating the impacts of climate change and not just adapting to it.”

Consumer demand

According to the NAU, regenerative agriculture is gaining credibility internationally. Consumers are demanding that the food they consume is regeneratively produced, the animals are well cared for and that the enterprises are socially responsible.

The NAIC and Meatco are pursuing trusted regenerative and organic certification levels and markets that will hopefully in the future lead to price premiums for regeneratively and organically produced products.

To enable the unions to work together, a non-profit company called Regenerative Agriculture Namibia (RAN) was established.

The three unions pledged their commitment to the goals of RAN which will work closely with role players to achieve the implementation of regenerative agriculture in Namibia.

The non-profit hopes to contribute significantly to the recovery of the agricultural sector, which is vital for the future prosperity of Namibia.

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