In the arid landscapes of Namibia, where the rhythm of farming dances to the unpredictable beats of climate change, the Agricultural Bank of Namibia issues a clarion call to farmers, urging them to transform their agricultural practices for resilience. Hanks Saisai, Agribank’s Technical Advisor for crops and poultry, recently emphasized the pressing need for transformative measures in a bid to mitigate climate-related losses and ensure sustainable farming in the face of adversities.
Understanding the Challenges: Navigating Through Climate Uncertainties
Namibian farmers grapple with the harsh impacts of climate change, marked by erratic rainfall, recurring droughts, and consequential losses in both crops and livestock. The recent report from The Villager paints a vivid picture of subsistence farmers in the Kavango East/West regions battling a prolonged heatwave, a situation that threatens irreversible damage to their crops.
The soaring temperatures not only jeopardize crop yields but also pose a significant threat to livestock due to the scarcity of grazing grass. Livestock farming, integral to Namibia’s agricultural landscape, faces unprecedented challenges with extreme heat affecting pasture availability.
Resilient Coping Strategies: A Blueprint for Agricultural Success
In response to these challenges, Saisai advocates for resilient coping strategies, emphasizing the critical role of both communal and household-level initiatives. Saisai recommends cultivating perennial grasses such as Wool (Anthephora pubescens) and Blue Buffalo (Cenchrus ciliaris) on dedicated plots, covering 2,500 m2 (0.25 Ha) at the communal level. This not only enhances pasture availability but also bolsters the resilience of livestock farming.
To combat bush encroachment, Saisai proposes the innovative concept of bush thinning for fodder production, particularly beneficial for browsers like goats. This not only aids in fodder production but also facilitates the natural recovery of grazing areas, creating a sustainable balance between agriculture and the environment.
Diversification: A Key to Sustainable Farming Enterprises
Saisai underscores the importance of diversification as a potent tool to weather the storms of agricultural challenges. He urges farmers to explore additional income streams, promoting mixed farming by combining large livestock such as cattle with poultry like layer hens and small-scale vegetable production.
Diversifying not only provides multiple streams of income but also serves as a risk mitigation strategy against challenges like drought. The proceeds from these diversified ventures can be strategically utilized to sustain the main livestock farming enterprise during challenging periods.
Financial Planning: Nurturing Prosperity for Long-Term Stability
A critical aspect of building a sustainable farming business, according to Saisai, is meticulous financial planning. Farmers are advised to allocate 60% of their revenue during prosperous years to weather low-income periods, particularly crucial for livestock producers. Crop farmers are encouraged to save profits from bountiful harvests and reinvest them back into their businesses. An annual review of production and financial records is recommended to facilitate effective planning for the upcoming year.
Continuous Learning and Market Alignment: Building Resilience in Agriculture
Continuous learning and skill acquisition emerge as pivotal elements for maintaining productivity and building resilience in farming businesses. Saisai emphasizes the need for farmers to stay informed about market trends, aligning farming ventures with current demands. Producing what is in demand, he argues, is the cornerstone of building agri-businesses that remain resilient even during challenging times.
A Resilient Future for Namibian Agriculture
In the face of climate uncertainties, Namibian farmers stand at a crossroads, armed with the tools to transform challenges into opportunities. Embracing resilient agricultural practices, diversifying income streams, and implementing strategic financial planning are the stepping stones towards a sustainable and prosperous future for agriculture in Namibia. The call has been sounded; it is time for Namibian farmers to cultivate resilience and sow the seeds of a thriving agricultural legacy.