Grasslands are paramount

The rehabilitation of Namibia's grasslands is easier said than done, with support, funding and strategies required.

12 December 2018 | Agriculture

The 22nd Rangeland Forum took place at the end of November in Otjiwarongo during which sound rangeland management practices were discussed to make the livestock industry more profitable.

The Namibia National Farmers' Union (NNFU) and the Namibia Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy (NRMPS) project, together with the agriculture ministry, organised the forum on 28 and 29 November.

According to the Namibia Agriculture Union (NAU), the Namibia Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy of the ministry recognises large-scale degradation of the rangeland resource leading to significant losses to Namibia's GDP as well as a decline in livestock profitability and productivity.

The policy also provides an overall framework including key principles of rangeland management that if implemented can make the livestock industry profitable once more.

During the forum livestock production experts from southern Africa were invited to share their experiences of how they have applied the principles included in the policy to increase livestock profitability.

These experiences were supplemented by Namibia's own experts on applying sound rangeland management practices.

According to the NAU, the presentations showed that there are a number of ways that farmers can improve sustainable stocking rates in Namibia, but this will require a change in mindset and the adoption of a supportive and enabling environment from various players in the industry to turn this around.

Presentations also showed what needed to change to enable greater uptake of best practices as well as how this change to better practices should be supported over time.

“It is clear that the communal farming sector requires the establishment of mechanisms to enable grazing plans to be enforced in the communal setting,” says the NAU.

The emerging commercial farming sector recognised the need for a review of the sector to create and enable success.

According to the NAU, the commercial farming sector indicated the need for subsidised interest rates to address key bottlenecks on farms, including addressing bush thinning. The need was also expressed for policy security to enable investment and the growth of the sector.

The best practices, removal of stumbling blocks and the creation of incentives, as well as how best to support the sector, will be followed up next year with the relevant authorities and stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the manual on how to produce animal feed from Namibian encroacher bush was also launched at the forum.

The manual is a first of its kind and is aimed at providing practical guidelines on how to produce fodder for both large and small stock using indigenous encroacher bush species as a key ingredient.

The manual outlines the great potential for a bush-based animal fodder value chain in Namibia, both for commercial enterprises as well as in community-based settings.

The value chain is an opportunity to combat bush encroachment, especially when pursued in combination with other value chains such as charcoal, firewood and bio-char.

“Bush-based animal feed therefore creates a true win-win situation, as it is an immediate remedy in times of fodder shortage and it contributes to rangeland improvement in the long-run,” says the NAU.



ELLANIE SMIT

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